External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, emphasized on Monday that India and the UK are actively engaged in negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), expressing optimism in finding a mutually beneficial "landing point." During his ongoing official five-day visit to the UK, Jaishankar is aiming to bolster bilateral ties and give new impetus to the existing friendly relationship.
The focus of the discussions between the Indian and British systems revolves around what is officially termed an "enhanced trade partnership," commonly known as an FTA. Jaishankar underlined the significance of this agreement and the ongoing negotiations, expressing hope for a resolution that benefits both nations.
"We are focusing on what is officially called an enhanced trade partnership. In common sense, it’s called FTA (a free trade agreement) and that is today very much the focus of what the Indian and British systems are negotiating and where we hope that we will find a landing point which will work for both of us," Jaishankar said.
The India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, launched in 2021 alongside the India-UK Roadmap 2030, is designed to broaden ties across various sectors. Jaishankar highlighted the importance of agenda 2030, emphasizing increased emphasis on connectivity, trade, collaboration in defence and security, healthcare, and climate change initiatives.
Negotiations for the India-UK FTA began in January the previous year, with the ambitious goal of substantially boosting the current GBP 36-billion bilateral trading partnership. Thirteen rounds of negotiations have taken place, and officials are optimistic about reaching an agreement before the scheduled general elections in both countries in 2024.
Addressing the Indian community at a Diwali reception in London, Jaishankar shared insights from his meetings with key UK officials, including newly-appointed Foreign Secretary David Cameron, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, and Home Secretary James Cleverly. He expressed satisfaction with the commitment and support for the relationship, particularly noting the productive discussions with the Foreign Secretary on advancing the partnership to new heights.
(With agency inputs)