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India, UK to negotiate Free Trade Agreement

New Delhi – India and UK are aiming to launching the negotiations on Free Trade Agreement by November 2021.Two sides look for Interim Agreement as priority and later a Comprehensive Agreement. The matter came up during the discussions held between Piyush Goyal and his British counterpart Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss on FTA and other trade matters.

Proposed FTA between India and UK is expected to unlock extra ordinary business opportunities and generate jobs. Both sides have renewed their commitment to boosting trade in a manner which benefits all.

Speaking on the occasion Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Textiles, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, said that there is tremendous interest in the business community in both countries India and UK about this Free Trade Agreement. Goyal said that since the ‘Declaration’ on launch of Enhanced Trade Partnership, announced by Prime Ministers on May4, 2021, both countries have made substantial progress on various aspects of the partnership.

Piyush Goyal said that there is keenness to have an early conclusion of negotiations for quick and early economic benefits to businesses on both sides. Goyal added that Substantial work has already been done and extensive stakeholder consultations have been held involving Industry and Business associations, Export Promotion Councils, Buyers and Sellers Associations, Regulatory Bodies, Ministries and Departments, public research bodies, etc. The consultation paper was also made public for wider participation as well.

Piyush Goyal said that BWGs for different tracks have been formed to understand ambitions, interests and sensitivities of each other to facilitate accelerated progress during negotiations. The meetings of these BWGs are presently in progress and are likely to be completed by September, 2021.

Piyush Goyal said that he was hopeful that these BWG discussions would help both sides in understanding each other’s policy regimes and would put us in a better position when both sides begin their Joint Scoping discussions, beginning on 1st October 2021, for finalizing the TORs for launch of negotiations in November.

Piyush Goyal said that an Interim Trade Agreement, as a first step of an Free Trade Agreement would allow both of us to immensely benefit from the early gains of the partnership.

In services, certain services of mutual interest may be included in the Interim Agreement through request offer approach wherein we may include priority sectors which are immediately deliverable. If necessary, we may also explore signing of few Mutual Recognition Agreements in selective services like nursing and architecture services. Piyush Goyal emphasised upon the need to strike a balance between commitments & concessions in goods and services.

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