scorecardIndia, UK reaffirm FTA commitment at Strategic Dialogue
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India, UK reaffirm FTA commitment at Strategic Dialogue

India, UK reaffirm FTA commitment at Strategic Dialogue
IndiaIndia3 min read
India and Britain have reaffirmed their commitment to conclude a mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA) at the annual UK-India Strategic Dialogue here, as the two sides reflected the "good progress" on the 2030 Roadmap since the last review. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, who is on a visit to the UK, held discussions with his counterpart, Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Friday. After their meeting, the FCDO said the two leaders reviewed the progress made on the UK-India 2030 Roadmap since the last strategic dialogue in January last year and looked ahead to the next phase of bilateral cooperation.

"The two reflected on good progress on the 2030 Roadmap since the last review, noting key areas where the UK and India have worked together to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges," the FCDO said in a statement.

"This included collaborating on the world's first malaria vaccine, working closely on India's successful G20 Presidency and increasing opportunities for students and entrepreneurs under the Migration and Mobility Partnership. Alongside celebrating the milestones since the last review, this year's dialogue included the ongoing commitment to negotiate a mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA), and enhance defence cooperation," the statement added.

The India-UK FTA negotiations, which opened in January 2022, are aimed at significantly enhancing bilateral trade - currently worth around 38.1 billion pounds a year as per official statistics from earlier this year. The talks are now in their 14th round of talks, going at a slower pace during the phased Indian general elections.

Earlier, the High Commission of India in London said Kwatra also had a "fruitful meeting" with UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge, during which they discussed ongoing India-UK defence capability cooperation initiatives and avenues for future collaboration.

"We are delighted to host Indian Foreign Secretary Kwatra in London to underline the UK's commitment to deepening cooperation with India. I look forward to our relationship going from strength to strength, working together on trade, defence, climate, and health," said Lord Tariq Ahmad, FCDO Minister for South Asia, after his meeting with the Foreign Secretary which his office said covered the FTA, migration and the Commonwealth.

The 2030 Roadmap was clinched between India and the UK in 2021 and includes commitments to deepen cooperation on health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence by 2030.

As part of the UK-India Strategic Dialogue this week, Foreign Secretary Kwatra held a series of cross-department meetings including talks with the UK Home Office minister Matthew Rycroft, which covered ways to ease legal migration while curbing illegal flows.

"They recognised the need to further enhance cooperation in tackling extremism and terrorism," the Indian mission in London said. During his meeting with the UK National Security Adviser (NSA), the senior officials discussed key areas of bilateral ties as well as the broader geopolitical security landscape.

There are 26 chapters in the FTA, including goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.

The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals from sectors like IT and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods at nil customs duty.

On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, electric vehicles, lamb meat, chocolates, and certain confectionary items.

Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in Indian markets in segments like telecommunications, legal and financial services (banking and insurance).

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