UK and India accelerate talks towards free trade agreement

The UK and India have agreed to accelerate talks towards a comprehensive free trade agreement between the two nations, it was announced today by trade secretary Liz Truss and her Indian counterpart.

The pair met for talks in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss how to optimise the trading relationship following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU customs union.

Liz Truss tweeted a joint statement today which read: “Discussions were carried out on the entire range of bilateral trade and economic relations in a spirit of mutual understanding of each other’s priorities and trade sensitivities.

“Both Ministers reiterated their commitment to long term India-UK partnership and agreed to deepen trade cooperation between the two countries through an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP).

“They also reviewed progress in removing market access barriers on both sides and ongoing cooperation in response to COVID-19.”

Trade between the UK and India totalled more than £20 billion in 2018. An FTA between the two nations would increase prosperity, create jobs and secure livelihoods in both India and the United Kingdom.

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and is projected by PwC to be the world’s third-largest economy in 2050.

The statement announced that talks on the future partnership would “formally be launched during the visit of the UK Prime Minister to India later this year” with Liz Truss and her counterpart committing to make “concrete progress on trade and investment” to deliver “quick gains for both countries”.

Boris Johnson was due to visit India last month but was forced to cancel his trip due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK has agreed either continuity agreements or new trade agreements with over 90 nations across the globe since leaving the European Union last year.

The settlement with the European Union secured by Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal last December gives trade secretary, Ms Truss, even more scope to secure comprehensive trade pacts with global partners.