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India, UK reaffirm their FTA commitment at annual Strategic Dialogue

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,” the statement said.

“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, it added.

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,” 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.

“I look forward to our relationship going from strength to strength, working together on trade, defence, climate, and health, he added.

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.

India and the UK have held 13 rounds of talks on the FTA. The 14th round started in January.

There are 26 chapters in the agreement, 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).

The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 18 2024 | 10:33 AM IST