On Monday, the commerce ministry made an announcement indicating the completion of the 11th round of negotiations between India and the United Kingdom. These negotiations are aimed at establishing a proposed free trade agreement (FTA). The statement also mentioned that the subsequent round of talks is scheduled to occur in the upcoming months.
India and the United Kingdom are making efforts towards straightening differences on issues like intellectual property rights (IPRs) and rules of origin under the agreement, for which the negotiations began in January 2021.
“On July 18, the UK and India concluded the eleventh round of talks for the UK-India FTA. Technical discussions were held across nine policy areas over 42 separate sessions. They included detailed draft treaty text discussions in these policy areas,” it said.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal visited the United Kingdom on July 10-11, as a part of the 11th round of the negotiations.
He met with Kemi Badenoch MP, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, and Nigel Huddleston MP, the Minister of State for International Trade, where they had discussions on the ways towards making progress on the negotiations and also wider trade and investment opportunities for the United Kingdom and India.
During the rounds of the talk, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal also visited the United Kingdom. He met with senior UK trade officials and took stock of the progress made in the 11th round of negotiations.
The 12th round of talks is scheduled to take place in the coming months. The negotiations between the two countries for the agreement cloak as many as 26 policy areas/chapters.
Investment is being negotiated as a separate agreement (bilateral investment treaty) between India and the United Kingdom and would be concluded simultaneously with the free trade agreement.
Both countries missed the deadline last year due to economic and political crises in the UK.
The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals in the United Kingdom market and entry of Indian whiskey by removing conditions pertaining to the three-year minimum maturation period. The UK is also pursuing a significant cut in the import duties on Scotch whisky. Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in the Indian markets.
The bilateral trade between the countries has increased to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22.