The India-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations are set to be launched on Thursday with Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan starting talks on a pact that could boost total trade by £23 billion by 2035, according to the UK government.

“A deal between the UK and India will enable both economies to diversify, strengthen supply chains, and position India as a trusted trade partner in the region... A new economic partnership with India, alongside UK membership of the massive Asia-Pacific trading bloc, CPTPP, will create a pillar in the region supporting free and fair trade,” according to a statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi.

Trevelyan, who is on a two-day visit to New Delhi, said that the UK government wanted to unlock this huge new market for British producers and manufacturers across numerous industries from food and drink to services and automotive, the statement highlighted. The UK is especially interested in lower import duties on Scotch Whiskey in India.

Enhanced market access

Items where India hopes to get enhanced market access in the UK include garments and textiles, leather products, footwear, rice, beverages, tea & coffee, electrical machinery, homeware, furniture and engineering goods.

A comprehensive FTA between the UK and India can unlock economic benefits for both sides across a range of sectors – including our research partnership which is already worth £400 million, the release said.

The UK-India economic relationship is already on a strong wicket with two-way trade in 2019 at £23 billion. The two countries supported nearly half-a-million jobs in each other’s economies. In May 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British PM Boris Johnson set the target of doubling bilateral trade by 2030 by following the ‘2030 Roadmap’.

“A trade deal with India’s booming economy offers huge benefits for British businesses, workers and consumers. As we take our historic partnership with India to the next level, the UK’s independent trade policy is creating jobs, increasing wages and driving innovation across the country,” Johnson said.

As an independent, deal-making nation, the UK (following its exit from the European Union) is broadening its economic horizons and forging stronger partnerships with the fastest-growing economies of the world, Trevelyan said. “India marks the start of our ambitious 5-star year of UK trade and will show how the deals we negotiate will boost the economies across all nations and help level up all regions of the UK,” she added.