Thursday, May 19 2022

India and the United Kingdom announced on Friday the conclusion of a first round of “productive” talks on a free trade agreement (FTA), held virtually between officials of the two governments. The Department for International Trade (DIT) said that during the two-week cycle, which began earlier this month following the visit of UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, technical experts from both sides come together for discussions in 32 separate sessions covering 26 policy areas.

The DIT reiterated a year-end timeline for negotiations, saying the two teams maintain a “shared ambition” to conclude negotiations by the end of 2022.

“The negotiations were productive and reflected our shared ambition to reach a comprehensive agreement to boost trade between the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world. The positive first-round talks laid the foundation for the UK and India to make positive and effective progress,” the DIT said.

Policy areas covered in this round included trade in goods, trade in services including financial services and telecommunications, investment, intellectual property, customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures , technical barriers to trade, competition, gender equality, public procurement, small and medium enterprises. medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), sustainability, transparency, trade and development, geographical and digital indicators.

Officials stressed the importance of ensuring the first round could be held virtually, despite the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic. The second round of negotiations is due to take place from March 7 to 18. As part of the two sides’ efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement, chief negotiators will continue to consider the merits of an interim deal, the UK government has said.

An India-UK FTA is being touted in the UK as creating huge benefits for both countries, with the potential to boost two-way trade by up to £28bn a year by 2035 and raise wages by up to £3billion across the UK. A deal with India is also seen as a “big step forward” in the UK’s post-Brexit strategy to refocus trade on the Indo-Pacific, home to half the world’s population and 50% of global economic growth.

The DIT has previously said the UK wants a deal that removes barriers to doing business and trade with India’s £2trillion economy and market of 1.4bn consumers, including reduced duties tariffs on exports of British-made cars and Scotch whisky.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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