India and the UK are trying to iron out contentious issues including intellectual property rights, digital trade and data protection, rules of origin, labour, environment and services, in the ongoing negotiating round in London, as these would be crucial for the successful conclusion of the pact, official sources have said.
“Of the 26 chapters in the proposed India-UK FTA, as many as 14 are agreed upon and 5 chapters are close to conclusion. But it is important that the areas that continue to be contentious get ironed out soon,” an official tracking the negotiations said.
Officials from both sides are participating in the eleventh round of negotiations in London that started on July 10 and would continue till July 19.
“India has some redlines which it does not want to cross. In IPRs, it does not want to compromise on production of life-saving generics. In the area of digital trade and data protection, it is yet to firm up its own domestic laws and hence doesn’t want to take on commitments.
“In the areas of labour and environment, India has unilaterally made tremendous progress and does not want additional conditions. Similarly, it wants to have strict rules of origin (ROO) in place to ensure that third countries do not take unfair advantage of the FTA,” a source explained.
The UK, on the other hand, wants more stringent IPRs, free cross-border data flow and rules against data localisation, liberal ROOs and commitments in the areas of labour and environment, the source said.
It is, therefore, important for both sides to try and arrive at a middle ground so that these do not come in the way of finalisation of the FTA.
Both sides are hopeful that the proposed FTA would double bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030.
The areas covered in the negotiations include, goods, services, investments, government procurement, accounting and auditing, legal, digital trade, sustainability and intellectual property.