India and the UK are interested in concluding the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement at the earliest keeping in view that it proves to be a “win-win” for both, the Ministry of External Affairs has said.

The reaffirmation of the intention to conclude the bilateral FTA, for which both sides are targeting a Diwali-deadline (October 24), is important given recent reports that UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman had expressed reservations over the proposed deal while linking it to Indians overstaying their visas.

“There is interest in both sides to conclude the FTA at the earliest. Diwali has been set as a goal. Intensive discussions are underway towards this and they are continuing,” said the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi at a press briefing on Friday.

In response to questions on Braverman’s observations on Indian visa over stayers, and how it cast a shadow on the proposed FTA, Bagchi said that he would not comment as these had been published as part of news reports. However, he added that migration mobility was an important element and there was understanding between the two countries about it.

“Whenever there is an Indian citizen abroad we strongly encourage legal migration. We will expect the UK side to show demonstrable action on it,” he said.

Recently, the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had expressed strong interest in early conclusion of the proposed FTA. Pointing out that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a very ambitious desire to get the India-UK FTA signed by Diwali, he said that the British PM Liz Truss wanted her administration to match that pace and ambition.

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