India-UK enhanced trade partnership to be launched

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 08, 2021

British PM Boris Johnson   -  REUTERS

Goyal, Truss to set joint timelines for further advances on trade, investment issues

The India-UK Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP), which could lead to a potential comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, will be formally launched during the visit of the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to India later this year.

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his UK counterpart Elizabeth Truss, at their bilateral meeting in New Delhi last week, committed themselves to make concrete progress on trade and investment front to deliver quick gains for both countries and also set joint timelines for further advances, according to an official release circulated on Monday. The British PM’s planned visit to India to attend the Republic Day celebrations last month had to be put off due to fresh out-break of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country and the discovery of a new strain of the virus. While a fresh date for Johnson’s visit is yet to be decided, officials say that it was likely sometime in 2021.

“Taking forward their commitment from the 14th JETCO (Joint Economic Trade Committee) on July 24, 2020, India and UK Trade Ministers reviewed the ongoing engagements between the two sides for an ETP, as part of the development of a roadmap that would lead to a potential comprehensive FTA, including considerations on an interim agreement on preferential basis,” the release added.

Non-trade barriers

India has been proposing to the UK that negotiations for a bilateral FTA should begin soon as the country was now out of the EU. The UK, however, indicated that it would prefer non-trade barriers between the two countries to be addressed first before progressing towards a free trade pact.

The Ministers agreed to accelerate the process towards launch of the ETP, and committed to interact on a regular basis, while identifying quick and concrete bilateral deliverables that could cement the ETP and immediately benefit the people of both countries.

Goyal and Truss welcomed the deepening of bilateral health cooperation between the two countries, including on vaccines, which had allowed the two countries to act as a “global force for good’’ during challenging times.

The Ministers also committed to re-launch the UK-India CEO Forum and agreed on a meeting for the CEO Forum at the earliest.

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Published on February 08, 2021
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