Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday that India and the UK have high priorities regarding free trade agreements (FTAs). The next round of negotiations is scheduled for next month.
There is good progress being made, and good results are expected. Until we had a minor blip caused by political developments in the other country, we were all very well aware that it was progressing rapidly. Our government is stable, which is a blessing. In my opinion, I am now in an office in the United Kingdom, and I have already been in contact with my counterpart there. Currently, we are working together to arrange an in-person meeting, but our teams are already engaged. During an event relating to the steel industry, Goyal indicated that the next round of negotiations would occur next month.
According to him, there must be industry support for the FTA, and it should be fair, equitable, and balanced.
Furthermore, he stated that there should be no strict deadline for concluding negotiations for an FTA, as such agreements must be carefully considered and calibrated before they may be negotiated.
Both countries have a high priority to reach a comprehensive agreement with the UK, as we have with the UAE. Goyal reiterated this point at the G20 meeting.
In January, India and Britain began negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement to conclude the talks by Diwali (October 24). However, the deadline was missed due to political developments in the UK. This agreement contains 26 chapters on goods, services, investments, and intellectual property.
By reducing or eliminating customs duties under the pact, Indian labour-intensive sectors like textiles, leather, gems and jewellery will benefit from increased exports to the United Kingdom. There are several areas where the UK seeks duty concessions, including Scotch whiskey and automobiles.
Five negotiations have been held between the two countries to date.
The bilateral trade between the two countries increased from USD 13.2 billion in 2020-21 to USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22. The value of India’s exports in 2021-22 was USD 10.5 billion, while its imports were USD 7 billion. The agreement consists of 26 chapters, including chapters on goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.
Exports from India to the United Kingdom are primarily comprised of ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transportation equipment and parts, spices, metal products, machinery and instruments, pharmaceutical products, and marine products.
The country imports a wide range of goods, such as precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering equipment, professional instruments, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and machinery.
The United Kingdom is also one of the largest investors in India. Delhi attracted USD 1.64 billion in foreign direct investment in 2021-22. From April 2000 to March 2022, the figure was approximately USD 32 billion.
India’s IT services find a large market in the UK in the services sector.