India-UK FTA to be signed post formation of new government in India

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NEW DELHI : The India-UK free trade agreement is likely to be signed post the formation of new government at the Centre.

“The legal vetting of the trade deal is on. Even if we iron out the last few issues, the deal cannot be announced till elections are over and a new government is formed” a senior government official told ANI.

The last round of negotiations on pending issues between India and United Kingdom concluded this month, but the negotiating teams of both sides are continuing to hold virtual discussions on a few vital issues.

Intense negotiations were held for last two months to iron out the contentious issues.

India and the UK launched the talks for a free-trade agreement (FTA) in January 2022 and there have been 14 round of talks so far. Chapter wise textual negotiations are almost over and schedules on Goods and Services are being finalised.

On March 12, PM Shri Narendra Modi and his counterpart UK PM Rishi Sunak had a telephonic discussion for early conclusion of the FTA. This gives the negotiating team a final push to finalise the deal at the earliest.

The two leaders also affirmed their commitment to further bolster the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two nations.

“Had a good conversation with PM Rishi Sunak. We reaffirmed our commitment to further strengthen the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and work for early conclusion of a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement,” PM Modi had posted on X.

The two countries are also negotiating a bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which is being negotiated by the finance ministry.

“UK is unwilling the sign the FTA without finalising the BIT” said the official.

India has signed three FTAs in the last two years, with UAE, Australia and the European Free Trade Association

Through the FTA, India is looking for greater access to sectors like textiles, automobile parts, and marine products. The deal will also facilitate easier movement of skilled professionals.

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