Looking for landing point in FTA talks with UK: Jaishankar

The two countries have been negotiating a free trade agreement since January 2022, with a target to significantly enhance the GBP 36-million bilateral trade partnership.
India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File photo | AP)
India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File photo | AP)

NEW DELHI:  The India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is very much the focus of what the two nations are negotiating, said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in London on Monday. “We are focusing on what is officially called an enhanced trade partnership. In common sense, it is called a free trade agreement and that is today very much the focus of what the Indian and British systems are negotiating. We hope we will find a landing point, which will work for both of us,” the minister said. 

The two countries have been negotiating a free trade agreement since January 2022, with a target to significantly enhance the GBP 36-million bilateral trade partnership. Fourteen rounds of negotiations have concluded and 21 out of the 24 chapters have been agreed upon. However, some contentious issues need to be worked out before the deal is finalised. The two sides are looking at finding a “landing point” that will work for both.

Jaishankar said that the Agenda 2030 put greater emphasis on connectivity, trade, and working together when it comes to defence and security, health and all climate change. The minister has been on a five-day visit to the UK, since November 11. He also met the newly appointed foreign secretary David Cameron on Monday. Jaishankar’s visit is expected to give an impetus to the existing friendly ties between India and UK.

He also talked about his meetings with Cameron, defence secretary Grant Shapps and home secretary James Cleverly. Jaishankar said the Cameron, on the first day of the latter’s job, met him and it was extremely satisfying for him to savour the “commitment and support of the relationship”.

“We spent a lot of time talking about how to take it forward. I also, of course, met the home secretary, recently the foreign secretary, and he has been a pillar of strength for the relationship during his previous job. In his current job, we continue to count on him. Again, taking this relationship to a higher level,” he added.

“There is a global significance for a stronger India-UK relationship. Today, one of the biggest problems the world faces is somehow the manner in which globalisation has unfolded across borders in the last 30-odd years. It has led to a concentration of production in limited geographies. “The India-UK relationship can contribute to making India and UK stronger factors in contemporary technology, in greater manufacturing, in science and innovation,” he said.

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