A UK-India FTA is the proverbial pot of gold

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A UK-India FTA is the proverbial pot of gold
Prime ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson marked out an Enhanced Trade Partnership for their countries and ensured that India-UK ties took a quantum leap through a 10 year roadmap.Courtesy: ANI

An Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) paving the way for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) over the next decade was the highlight of the Virtual Summit between Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi.

A trade and investment deal with India worth around £1 billion and resulting in over 6,500 jobs in Britain was at the heart of the much-anticipated Virtual Summit between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week.

The Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) has set an ambition for both sides to double the value of UK-India trade by 2030 and declared a shared intent to begin work towards a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) over the next decade.

India elevated the status of its relationship with the UK to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” – the first European country to be granted that status – as both sides agreed a ‘2030 Roadmap’ for strengthening ties across health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence.

The UK and India share many fundamental values. The UK is one of the oldest democracies, and India is the world’s largest. We are both committed members of the Commonwealth. And there is a living bridge uniting the people of our countries.
- Boris Johnson. UK Prime Minister

New era

Boris Johnson said: “The UK and India share many fundamental values. The UK is one of the oldest democracies, and India is the world’s largest. We are both committed members of the Commonwealth. And there is a living bridge uniting the people of our countries.

“In the last week the British people have stepped up in their thousands to support our Indian friends during this terrible time in a demonstration of the deep connection between the UK and India.

“This connection will only grow over the next decade as we do more together to tackle the world’s biggest problems and make life better for our people. The agreements we have made today mark the beginning of a new era in the UK-India relationship.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) similarly welcomed a new era of UK-India relations that will unlock opportunities for an FTA.

With almost 1.4 billion people, India’s population is bigger than the EU and US combined and by far the largest market the UK has committed to negotiating a trade deal with to date.
- Downing Street statement

CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria said: “The Enhanced Trade Partnership will usher in a new era of UK-India relations and shows the world the strength of our relationship.

“Paving the way for a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement and setting the ambition of more than doubling bilateral trade from the current level of £23 billion by 2030. As leaders in tech and innovation, this enhanced partnership will unlock opportunities for businesses, boost job creation and growth across the country.”

Vaccines to robotics

The trade and investment package unveiled by the British government contains over £533 million of new Indian investment into the UK, covering areas such as healthcare and technology. This includes a £240 million investment by the Serum Institute of India in the UK into its vaccine business and a new sales office in the country, expected to generate new business worth over $1 billion. Serum’s investment will support clinical trials, research & development and "possibly" manufacturing of vaccines, to help the UK and the world defeat the coronavirus pandemic and other deadly diseases.

British businesses have also secured new export deals with India worth more than £446 million, which is expected to create more than 400 British jobs. This includes CMR Surgical exporting its next-generation “Versius” surgical robotic system, which helps surgeons perform minimal access surgery being rolled out to hospitals in India. This export deal is worth £200 million and will result in the creation of 100 new jobs in the UK.

“With almost 1.4 billion people, India’s population is bigger than the EU and US combined and by far the largest market the UK has committed to negotiating a trade deal with to date,” Downing Street said.

Removing barriers

The ETP agreed between India and the UK is said to create immediate opportunities for British businesses in India across industries including food and drink, life sciences and the service sector. Non-tariff barriers on fruit and medical devices will be lowered, allowing British businesses to export more of their products to India and boosting UK growth and jobs. It also commits both sides to addressing immediate market access barriers as well as continuing to seek further opportunities on the road to an FTA.

According to the UK government, a future UK-India trade deal will support hundreds of thousands of jobs and boost the economies of both the UK and India by potentially lowering or removing current tariffs such as those of up to 150 per cent on whisky and up to 125 per cent on automotives as well as on other British products. It would also create huge benefits for British services – four out five of India’s fastest growing imports are for services like IP and telecommunications.

The trade barriers addressed by the ETP include lifting restrictions to enable fruit producers across the UK to export British apples, pears and quince to India for the first time and improved access for medical devices through the acceptance of UK Certificates of Free Sale in India, removing the requirement for additional accreditation of UK medical devices when exporting to the Indian market before they can be sold.

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