India-UK FTA talks yet to begin
Formal negotiations for an India-UK FTA (free trade agreement) are set to begin imminently according to Lord Karan Bilimoria, the President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). He said that the FTA will be as exhaustive as possible to cover all aspects of the bilateral relationship. He also said their bilateral relationship offers “enormous potential” ranging from easing the movement of people to slashing duties and tariffs on some of Britain’s major exports.
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“For nearly four decades, all our trade deals were negotiated by the European Union. And, over the last five years, the UK’s Department for International Trade did an incredible job; it signed trade agreements with 66 non-EU countries and one with the EU. A remarkable achievement, which many thought would be impossible,” opined Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer. He observed that the UK is just scratching the surface with a country like India, the fifth largest economy in the world and an emerging global economic superpower. While no date for the launch of negotiations has yet been finalised, preparations for the launch of negotiations for the India-UK FTA “remain underway”.
The spokesperson pointed out the significant disparity in visitor visa fees paid by Indians, in comparison with Chinese visitors who pay far less as an example to ease greater movement of people across borders. He also believes that the India-UK FTA should be doing way more than GBP 24 billion bilateral trade.“That FTA I hope will be a huge benefit in enhancing bilateral trade and very comprehensive… as comprehensive as possible. Movement of people; reduction of duties and tariffs – the tariff on Scotch whisky is 150 per cent, that’s got to be reduced drastically; academic collaborations and cross-border research is going to be huge between our countries; partnering on a Green industrial revolution. There is a vast array to really ramp up business and trade between our two countries,” he added.