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PM Modi, UK PM Rishi Sunak reiterate commitment to early conclusion of FTA
Photo Courtesy: PIB

PM Modi, UK PM Rishi Sunak reiterate commitment to early conclusion of FTA

| @indiablooms | 13 Mar 2024, 12:52 am

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak have reiterated their commitment to achieving "an early conclusion of a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement (FTA)."

"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," Modi said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on March 12.

India and the UK have been intensifying efforts to finalise negotiations on the proposed bilateral FTA.

A British delegation recently engaged with commerce ministry officials in New Delhi to expedite discussions.

This visit closely followed an Indian delegation's trip to London, led by Commerce Secretary Sunil Kumar Barthwal at the end of last month, aimed at resolving disagreements concerning specific aspects of market access.

However, there have been doubts that the trade deal would be closed before India’s general elections, which is likely to be notified soon.

Kevin McCole, Managing Director of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), noted that while the election date in the UK hasn't been confirmed yet, it's likely to fall between May and November 2024, according to a Moneycontrol report.

Meanwhile, India is scheduled for elections around April-May this year. McCole expressed concerns that discussions might need to be halted until both countries complete their electoral processes.

On February 15, India's commerce ministry stated that a major portion of the chapters in the India-UK FTA have either been finalised or are in advanced stages of negotiation.

The negotiations between the two nations started in January 2022 with an initial target deadline of Diwali 2022. The agreement comprises 26 chapters covering various aspects such as goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights. Currently, 14 rounds of discussions have been held between the two parties.

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