India, UK to hold early harvest talks on trade pact


NEW DELHI: Minister of state for commerce Hardeep Singh Puri will hold talks with the UK’s minister for international trade Ranil Jayawardena with the aim of arriving at an “early harvest” post Brexit, a person familiar with the development said on Friday. Early harvest is the precursor agreement to a full-fledged free trade pact between India and the UK.

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The talks on Tuesday follow discussions between commerce minister Piyush Goyal and his UK counterpart Liz Truss in November. Tuesday’s round will be the fourth between Puri and Jayawardena.

“The November ministerial demonstrated the strength of the long-standing UK-India relationship, with both parties agreeing to continue to drive forward progress through the Enhanced Trade Partnership, which could lead to a free trade agreement in the future,” reports quoted a spokesperson of the UK’s department for international trade (DIT) as saying after the November talks.

It was then agreed that “an MoS (minister of state) level meeting will take place in January 2021 to review the progress and work on potential deliverables,” the person mentioned above said.

The two ministers would aim to identify issues that could go into an “early harvest” package, a second person familiar with the matter said. Market access was one of the issues on the table, this person said.

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