Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said negotiations to secure free trade deal between India and the UKare expected to be over by the end of this year.

“It is not difficult to guess that the agreement with UK should get concluded soon. For whatever reasons, it could not happen last year. I think this year there’s hope that we’ll finish it fast,” she said while addressing B20 summit, organised by CII as part of India’s G20 Presidency.

FTA Benefits

Talking about benefits of FTA, she said that Brexit has happened but still UK can play the role of a threshold towards Europe. Same is possible with other countries too. “One FTA can have its own spillover on a second FTA and so on for both countries,” she said, adding that FTA with Canada and other countries are also in work.

On Thursday, UK Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch had said the India-UK FTA may be close to finalisation and there is optimism that the two sides could deliver ‘mutually beneficial’ results.

“We are now in the final stages. I can’t give a deadline, anything could happen. But what I can say is that I am very optimistic, and I am working closely with my counterpart, Minister to make sure we can deliver something that both our countries will find mutually beneficial,” Badenoch said at a media interaction on the sidelines of the G20 Trade & Investment Ministerial Meeting in Jaipur.

Crucial deal

The FM’s comments came at a time when the two countries are working towards agreement on issues including intellectual property rights, rules of origin and an investment treaty.

A deal between India and the UK is crucial for New Delhi, which hopes to become a big exporter, while the UK would get wider access for its whiskey, premium cars and legal services. Both countries are aiming to double bilateral trade by 2030 via such a deal.