| 6 December 2023, Wednesday |

India dismisses reports of halting trade talks with UK over Sikh extremism

Media reports that the trade talks with the United Kingdom were suspended as it failed to condemn the Sikh extremist group that attacked the Indian High Commission in London last month, was denied by the Indian government.
The government sources termed the report “baseless”.
The response comes after a report by the UK-based Times newspaper, which quoted British government sources, claimed that the Indian government “disengaged” from the talks, and categorically stated that there would be no progress unless the Rishi Sunak administration issues a public condemnation of the Khalistan movement.

The report further mentioned that the UK Home Office was in the coming weeks planning to announce to a crackdown on Sikh extremists and sympathisers of the Khalistan movement, which is seeking independence of Punjab state in India.

Netting the key trade deal with India has been the primary goal of the Rishi Sunak government.

So far, eight rounds of negotiations have taken place between the two countries, with the latest one concluding in New Delhi from March 20-24.

Trade ministers of both countries recently met on December 13, 2022, and January 27, 2023, to take stock of progress.

According to Nikkei Asia newspaper, agreements have been reached on 13 chapters of the trade agreement. There are 26 chapters in the proposed FTA deal, which include goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.

India accounts for 1.7 per cent of total UK exports and India was the 12th largest export market for the UK in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022.

India and the UK recorded trade “worth £34 billion to year-end September 2022”.

The relations between India and UK hit a roadblock recently after the Indian mission was vandalised by Khalistani supporters. New Delhi had blamed London for failing to provide adequate security arrangements to the staff members.

A day after the incident, the Indian foreign ministry summoned the seniormost diplomat of the UK in Delhi, seeking an explanation for the “absence of security” at the high commission premises.

It criticised the UK government’s “indifference” to Indian diplomats and personnel saying that it was “unacceptable”.

British foreign minister James Cleverly had assured to review the security at the Indian High Commission in London following and condemned the “unacceptable acts of violence” towards the mission’s staff.

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