India, UK FTA: First round of talks concluded; next round in March

NEW DELHI, Jan 28: Officials of India and the UK on Friday concluded the first round of negotiations for a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) and held discussions on a host of issues including goods, services, investment, customs and government procurement, according to a joint outcome statement. The second round of negotiations is due to take place on March 7-18, 2022. “Both teams maintain a shared ambition to conclude negotiations by the end of 2022,” it said. As part of the effort of both sides to secure a comprehensive agreement, chief negotiators will continue to consider the benefits of an interim agreement, it added. During the first round, technical experts from both sides came together for discussions in 32 separate sessions covering 26 policy areas. These include trade in goods, services including financial services and telecommunications, intellectual property, customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, competition, sustainability and transparency. “The negotiations were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade between the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world,” it added. The UK minister and India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on January 13, formally launched negotiations for the proposed FTA, which is expected to help double bilateral trade to over USD 100 billion by 2030 and boost economic ties between the two countries. India’s exports to the UK stood at USD 8.15 billion in 2020-21, while imports aggregated at USD 4.95 billion. India’s main exports to the UK include ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum products, transport equipment, spices, pharmaceuticals and marine products. Imports from Britain include precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, chemicals and machinery. In the services sector, the UK is the largest market in Europe for Indian IT services.  (PTI)