Boris Johnson hails India-UK FTA as ‘the greatest of them all’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday reiterated the Diwali timetable for a draft free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK, saying the proposed trade deal with New Delhi would be the most important to date in the post-Brexit context.

In a statement marking the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Monday, Johnson tapped into the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ which has added immense value to the 54 member countries of the organization.

He highlighted how India, as the largest member of the grouping, will be at the same table as the smaller one for CHOGM, pointing to the various forces of the Commonwealth.

“The Pacific archipelago of Tuvalu (11,000 inhabitants) will be at the same table as India (1.3 billion inhabitants). Yet despite all the differences between us, we are bound together by an invisible thread of shared values, history and institutions and of course the English language,” Johnson wrote in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“All of this creates a unique opportunity for Britain, in which the Commonwealth – and only the Commonwealth – combines large and rapidly growing markets with real and quantified commercial advantage. That is why we are mobilizing the Kingdom’s newfound sovereignty United to sign free trade or economic partnership agreements with as many Commonwealth countries as possible, so far we have done 33, including Australia and New Zealand, and we are aiming for the India, the greatest of all, by Diwali in October,” he said.

It was during his visit to India in April that Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the negotiating teams on both sides were to work on a Diwali timetable for the conclusion of a draft free trade agreement. .

The teams are now in the middle of the fourth round of FTA negotiations, with the Trade Secretary coming from India for the ongoing negotiations in the UK.
“Things are going so well, we are completing the chapters so quickly and making progress on the other chapters that remain to be completed,” Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar told reporters at an event. farewell organized for the outgoing envoy by Indian journalists. ‘ Association (IJA) in London on Friday.

“The interesting thing I’ve learned is that our Department of Trade has opened up so many more areas in the UK, more than other countries, and I’m really glad that’s happening. As an envoy from my government in the UK, I would really like this to be India’s best FTA with any country, because I think there are so many complementary strengths… the simple fact that we we were engaging so intensely is a very good sign,” she said.

During a visit to the UK last month, Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal also indicated good progress towards the Diwali deadline.
“With the UK we had agreed to do an early harvest deal – basically grabbing the low hanging fruits and leaving the tougher bits for the next stage… But the way things are going , we will eventually do a full FTA with the UK by Diwali,” he said at the time.

The objective of the FTA negotiations is to reduce barriers to trade, reduce tariffs and help companies to export.
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), an FTA with India would almost double UK exports to India.
A trade deal is also expected to boost Britain’s total trade by £28billion a year by 2035 and boost wages in UK regions by £3billion, according to estimates from the UK. industry.

“A free trade agreement with the fastest growing economy in the world is now within reach, and to achieve this agreement, it is now essential to focus on reducing trade barriers,” said CBI Chairman Lord Karan Bilimoria, who recently launched the British Indian Industry Task Force as a joint committee to increase cross-industry collaboration on the FTA talks.

According to the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), two-way trade between India and the UK currently stands at around £24 billion a year.
In May last year, Johnson and Modi struck an enhanced trade partnership with the aim of at least doubling bilateral trade to £50bn by 2030.
Industry experts hope that figure could increase further with the conclusion of the FTA.

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