Uncertainty over British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s India visit

Trade talks are based on many discussions and it is not fair to give a deadline. However, things are moving in the right direction,’’ said a source familiar with the talks.
FILE - An image of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, used for representational purposes only. (Photo | AP)
FILE - An image of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, used for representational purposes only. (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI:  Recently, the 13th round of India-UK Free Trade Agreement talks saw the conclusion of 21 out of the 26 chapters that were being negotiated between the two nations. The 14th round is taking place in Delhi at present, which is reportedly being attended by a 30-member UK delegation.

All this has led to speculation that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would be in Delhi on October 28 to sign the FTA. However, that is subject to the conclusion of trade talks. “There are a few more chapters that need to be concluded. Trade talks are based on many discussions and it is not fair to give a deadline. However, things are moving in the right direction,’’ said a source familiar with the talks.

It is learnt that the PMO is also in the process of taking a call on the possible conclusion of these trade talks. PM Sunak, if he travels to India, is said to be considering travelling to Lucknow on October 29 to attend the India-England cricket match.

“The 13th round of the India-UK FTA has just concluded. As many as 21 out of the 26 chapters have been closed. The issues that are still being negotiated include social security, duties on agro products, duties on whisky, electrical vehicles, labour and environment gradation system, besides investment protection,’’ said a source.

The present round of talks will also focus on “the rules of origin.” Under this provision, a country that has inked an FTA with India cannot dump goods from some third country in the Indian market by putting a label on it. It has to undertake a prescribed value addition in that product to export to India. Rules of origin norms help contain the dumping of goods.

The Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is being negotiated as a separate agreement between the two sides. The BITs help in promoting and protecting investments in each other’s countries. These investment treaties help in promoting and protecting investments in each other’s country. The main point of contention involved in this pact is about the mechanism for the settlement of disputes.

The negotiations between India and the UK are crucial not only for the India-UK FTA but are also likely to be considered for the ongoing India-EU FTA. Free trade agreements are designed to ease the flow of goods and services between countries by simplifying and/or lowering import tariffs. They typically have the impact of lowering the prices of imported goods for the end user.

Sunak visited India last month to attend the G20 Summit. On the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sunak held bilateral talks. In the talks, Modi and Sunak reviewed the progress of the FTA negotiations and expressed the hope that the remaining issues could be addressed at the earliest so that a balanced, mutually beneficial and forward-looking trade deal is concluded soon.

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