India, UK Reaffirm Commitment to Free Trade Agreement at Strategic Dialogue

India and Britain have once again affirmed their dedication to finalizing a mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA) during the annual UK-India Strategic Dialogue. The discussions at the dialogue highlighted the significant progress made on the 2030 Roadmap, marking an essential milestone in bilateral relations.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, currently visiting the UK, engaged in discussions with his counterpart, Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) on Friday.

According to the FCDO, the two leaders reviewed the advancements made on the UK-India 2030 Roadmap since the last strategic dialogue held in January last year. They also set their sights on the forthcoming phase of bilateral cooperation.

“The two reflected on good progress on the 2030 Roadmap since the last review, noting key areas where the UK and India have worked together to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges,” stated the FCDO.

The statement further elaborated on collaborative efforts, such as pioneering the world’s first malaria vaccine, India’s successful G20 Presidency, and initiatives to enhance opportunities for students and entrepreneurs under the Migration and Mobility Partnership.

In addition to celebrating achievements since the last review, this year’s dialogue underscored the continuous commitment to negotiating a mutually beneficial FTA and bolstering defense cooperation.

Earlier, the High Commission of India in London reported a “fruitful meeting” between Kwatra and UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge. Discussions revolved around ongoing defense capability cooperation initiatives and avenues for future collaboration.

“We are delighted to host Indian Foreign Secretary Kwatra in London to underline the UK’s commitment to deepening cooperation with India,” expressed Lord Tariq Ahmad, FCDO Minister for South Asia. Ahmad highlighted the comprehensive nature of discussions, including the FTA, migration, and Commonwealth ties.

“The 2030 Roadmap, clinched between India and the UK in 2021, encompasses commitments to deepen cooperation on health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defense by 2030,” emphasized Ahmad.

The bilateral talks on the FTA, which have witnessed 13 rounds thus far, entered the 14th round in January. Covering 26 chapters, including goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights, the negotiations are crucial for both nations.

The Indian industry seeks greater access for skilled professionals in sectors like IT and healthcare in the UK market, alongside market access for various goods at nil customs duty. Conversely, the UK aims for reduced import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, electric vehicles, lamb meat, chocolates, and certain confectionary items. Furthermore, the UK is eager to expand UK services’ presence in Indian markets, particularly in telecommunications, legal, and financial services.

Bilateral trade between India and the UK witnessed a notable increase to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22, underscoring the growing economic ties between the two nations.

News Bureau
News Bureau
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