Our Bureau New Delhi
On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Biritish counterpart Boris Johnson in a digital meeting had decided to enter into a free trade agreement (FTA) between both the nations in future.
The proposed FTA is a key part of the Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) between India and UK to galvanise bilateral business ties.
“We confirm our intent to finalize the pre-negotiation scoping phase for a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement by the end of 2021. This will resolve market access issues, boost exports and strengthen our trade partnership across a comprehensive range of areas. Both sides will undertake respective scoping, consultations and domestic processes, with consideration of the opportunity arising from an Interim Agreement, to achieve the early gains of the ETP,” a Joint Statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs after the meeting, said.
India has agreed to remove barriers to trade, a key British complaint, and has said that a balanced and beneficial market access package under the ETP will be created. This will cover diverse sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, education, legal services, seafarers, marine, healthcare and social security.
In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in India it was said that an ambitious ‘Roadmap 2030’ was adopted at the Summit to elevate bilateral ties to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
The Roadmap will pave the way for a deeper and stronger engagement over the next ten years in the key areas of people to people contacts, trade and economy, defence and security, climate action and health, the statement said.
The two leaders discussed the Covid19 situation and ongoing cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, including the successful partnership on vaccines. Prime Minister Modi thanked Prime Minister Johnson for the prompt medical assistance provided by the UK in the wake of the severe second wave of Covid19 in India. Prime Minister Johnson appreciated India’s role in extending assistance to the UK and other countries over the last year, including by way of supply of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
The two Prime Ministers launched an ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ (ETP) to unleash the trade potential between the 5th and 6th largest economies of the world and by setting an ambitious target of more than doubling bilateral trade by 2030. As part of the ETP, India and the UK agreed on a roadmap to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA, including consideration of an Interim Trade Agreement for delivering early gains. The enhanced trade partnership between India and UK will generate several thousands of direct and indirect jobs in both the countries. The UK is India’s second largest partner in research and innovation collaborations. A new India-UK ‘Global Innovation Partnership’ was announced at the Virtual Summit that aims to support the transfer of inclusive Indian innovations to select developing countries, starting with Africa. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation on new and emerging technologies, including Digital and ICT products, and work on supply chain resilience. They also agreed to strengthen defence and security ties, including in the maritime, counter-terrorism and cyberspace domains.