Modi and Truss in contact for Free Trade pact

Since Truss was instrumental in initiating the FTA, there is optimism of a deal being in sight by Diwali.
(L-R) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Liz Truss.
(L-R) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Liz Truss.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Liz Truss has been in regular communication with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss various issues linked to the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks between India and the UK that are slated to meet the Diwali deadline soon. Sources privy to the development of the FTA talks say that the momentum of the negotiations has gained strength.

“Since the fifth round of talks for the FTA got over in Delhi in August, negotiations and talks have gained momentum and talks are going on literally round-the-clock. PM Truss and PM Modi have been in touch over this. At present, a team of senior Indian officials is in the UK for discussing the FTA which is expected to meet its Diwali deadline,” said sources, adding that since Truss was instrumental in initiating the FTA, there is the optimism of the deadline being met.

The optimism is such that sources say that once the talks and negotiations are over, Prime Minister Modi is likely to travel to the UK for the signing of the agreement, most probably next month. The FTA agreement is estimated to double India-UK bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030. “The focus areas of the FTA include mobility, sustainable energy, technology, education, food and beverage amongst other sectors,” Richard Heald, Executive Chair of the UK India Business Council told this newspaper.

With a strong momentum of growth, and India being pitched as becoming the third largest economy in the next few decades, the FTA will be an added advantage. “The momentum of growth is strong in India. A number of factors are involved in the FTA — one of the foremost is the ease of doing business. There has been a lot of improvement on this front since 2008 as digitisation, permits and permissions have been helpful in clearing the way for it,” Heald added.

Successful negotiation of an India-UK FTA would enable more UK and Indian businesses to sell their products and services to customers across both countries. It would also facilitate greater collaboration between UK and Indian companies opening further opportunities, including those in Third World countries. This will translate into more jobs, growth and prosperity in both countries.

The FTA is one part of the wider India-UK economic relationship under the Comprehensive Strategic Roadmap agreed by Prime Minister Modi and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May 2021.
“To truly maximise the growth potential of the bilateral relationship, our countries have agreed to work together under the 2030 Roadmap across trade and investment, healthcare, climate action, defence and security, and the unique people-to-people connect or living bridge, that binds our countries together,” added Heald.

The Ministry of External Affairs had publicly acknowledged the Modi-Truss talks when Modi on September 11 called Truss. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to newly appointed Prime Minister of the UK, Liz Truss, and the two leaders committed to strengthening further the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and the UK,” an MEA statement had said.

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The New Indian Express