India-UK Trade Talks: Virtual discussion to focus on potential deliverables next week


Besides the gains in the goods, there could benefits in the services sector for Indians. (File image)

Next week India and the UK will carry forward the discussions on a trade partnership. Top sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online “The talks between the two countries have taken place at the official level, including during this week. The MoS (Commerce) Hardeep Singh Puri will be interacting with the UK Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena, MP, through video conference early next week to take forward the discussions.”

During their meeting on November 9, 2020, Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce and Industry and his UK counterpart, it was agreed that MoS level meeting will take place in January 2021 to review the progress and work on potential deliverables.

India-UK Trade Relations

The two countries which are natural trade and investment partners are all set for an elevated strategic partnership and this is expected to involve defence and security, trade, healthcare and climate change and also the movement of people.

post-Brexit, the bilateral relations are expected to intensify gradually and efforts are being made to deepen cooperation in various sectors like the use of robotics in operation theatres in India, joint research for the development of the COVID vaccine, among others.

As has been reported earlier, the two countries are the founding members of the Global Partnership on artificial intelligence (AI). Together efforts are being made to embrace innovation to unleash full economic potential.

Major Headway

The removal of market access barriers on various items including Welsh lamb in India, food and drinks, pharmaceuticals, data and digital and advanced manufacturing.

These were outcomes of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee meetings in 2019.

Opportunities for India post-BREXIT

Regaining full control on immigration

The removal of tariffs imposed by the EU on sectors like textiles

Level playing field for attracting talent through mutual recognition of skills and certifications

Masala bonds and green growth equity funds for collaboration in the financial sector

A report of the British Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has said that during the lockdown period of April-July in 2020, UK companies continued to invest millions into the Indian economy.

“Already, 500 British companies are sourcing, assembling and manufacturing locally in India and have created employment for 6, 00,000 Indians”, Richard Heald, Group Chair, UKIBC, UK had said last December.

“Besides the two sides inking a Free Trade Agreement, there should be more focus on an enhanced trade partnership in sectors like food and drink, IT, life sciences, chemicals, and services.”

According to Mr Heald, “Improved Ease of Doing Business rankings, reforms in both countries, and a rules-based trade environment guided by the WTO has helped in sustaining the relationship.”

According to experts, the post-Brexit deal between the UK and the EU may not result in direct gains for Indian exporters in terms of increased market access for goods. However, the demand for services could increase in the UK.

Since the UK and the EU are expected to continue with common norms, it will save the Indian exporters of goods from the trouble of adhering to two sets of standards and technical specifications.

Following Britain’s decision to exit the bloc, both the UK and the EU have an agreement over the terms of their future relations. According to reports, this deal was reached just days ahead of the December 31, 2020 deadline for completion of the transition period.

Besides the gains in the goods, there could benefits in the services sector for Indians. The English-speaking Indian professionals may be in an advantageous position in various sectors including the R&D, financial services, IT, architecture and engineering.

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