There are no indications about the effect of the recent political developments in Britain on the ongoing negotiations for a proposed free trade agreement between the two countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said.
On July 7, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader following an unprecedented mutiny from within his Cabinet and after being abandoned by his close allies in the wake of a series of scandals that rocked his government, triggering a leadership election for a new Tory leader who will go on to become his successor.
In January, both countries formally launched talks for a free trade agreement to boost bilateral trade and investments.
In such pacts, two countries either eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them besides easing norms for promoting investments and services trade.
“It (political developments in the UK) has happened very recently, and we have not received any indications of that sort. But since the Conservative Party is still going to be in the government and normally in relation to international engagements, government’s have continuity. So, I do not see any immediate problem and I have not heard of any reason, which may affect the strong bilateral partnership between India and UK,” Goyal told PTI.
He was replying to a question about whether the resignation of the UK’s prime minister is going to affect the ongoing negotiations for the India-UK trade deal.
The talks are at an advanced stage, and both sides have agreed on many chapters of the proposed pact.
When asked about meeting the deadline of concluding talks by Diwali, the minister said FTA negotiations are “very” complex affairs and involve a lot of careful assessment of different elements.
“We will put in our best effort to meet these very challenging deadlines,” he added.
In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson had set the deadline for Diwali for the negotiating teams to conclude the FTA talks. Diwali falls on October 24 this year.
The UK is also a key investor in India. New Delhi has attracted foreign direct investment of USD 1.64 billion in 2021-22. The figure was about USD 32 billion between April 2000 and March 2022.
India’s main exports to the UK include ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment and parts, spices, metal products, machinery and instruments, pharma and marine items.
Major imports include precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, professional instruments, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and machinery.
In the services sector, the UK is one of the largest markets in Europe for Indian IT services.
The bilateral trade has increased to USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to USD 13.2 billion in 2020-21. India’s exports stood at USD 10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports were USD 7 billion.
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