UK Business Secretary meets Jaitley, Sitharaman to fast track FTA talks

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018

UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid

Invites Indian industry to invest in Britain

British Business Secretary Sajid Javid has embarked on a hurricane trip to India to initiate free trade agreement (FTA) talks with India.

He met Ministers of Finance and Commerce and Industry Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman respectively, in an effort to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with India.

Initial discussions

“Following the referendum result, my absolute priority is making sure the UK has the tools it needs to continue to compete on the global stage. That is why I am in India today to launch these initial trade discussions. There is a strong bilateral trade relationship between our countries and I am determined that we build on this,” he said in a statement issued by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

However, it was learnt that he has urged India to wrap-up the talks “quickly” and not take years to negotiate the deal, even as it is yet to firm up who will be their chief trade negotiator, sources told BusinessLine.

The British government is also aiming to ramp up its trade department by inducting 300 specialist staff by the year-end.

UK’s plan is to implement the trade deal as soon as the formal process of its exit from the EU takes place, which may take up to two years. India has been negotiating a FTA with EU since 2007.

So far 15 rounds of negotiations have taken place on the trade deal, which is also known as the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). The negotiations have missed several deadlines and are currently deadlocked.

Indian investments invited

During his discussions with Jaitley and Sitharaman, he also apprised them of how Britain plans to approach its business and economic ties with its partner countries even as he urged investments from Indian industry, according to sources.

According to a recent survey by FICCI, Indian investments to UK are likely to plummet following its exit from the EU. A team of business leaders under the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had visited UK from July 5-7 to explore the business environment.

After the day’s trip to India, the Business Secretary headed to China, Japan and South Korea.

(With inputs from Amiti Sen)

Published on July 08, 2016

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