India and the United Kingdom on Saturday reviewed the progress of negotiations of the proposed free trade agreement (FTA), talks for which have reached the final stage.
The progress was reviewed by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch in Osaka, Japan.
Both ministers are in Japan for the Group of Seven (G7) trade ministers meeting in Osaka.
“Discussed the progress of India-UK free trade agreement negotiations with UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch,” Goyal said on social media platform X.
Negotiations between senior officials of India and the UK are on to bridge differences on issues such as rules of origin and services sector, with an aim to conclude the talks for the proposed FTA at the earliest.
India and Britain launched the talks for a trade agreement in January 2022, with an aim to conclude them by Diwali last year (October 24, 2022), but the deadline was missed due to political developments in the UK.
There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights. An investment treaty is also being negotiated as a separate agreement between India and the UK.
These investment treaties help in promoting and protecting investments in each other's country. The main point of contention in this pact is the mechanism for settlement of disputes.
The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals from sectors like IT, and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods at nil customs duty.
On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, automobiles, lamb meat, chocolates and certain confectionary items. Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in Indian markets in segments like telecommunications, legal and financial services (banking and insurance).
The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to $ 20.36 billion in 2022-23, from $ 17.5 billion in 2021-22.
Further, Goyal also held bilateral meetings in Osaka with US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai; World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi; Japanese trading and investment major Matsui and Co; Director and Chair of Board of Directors Tatsuo Yasunga, and Australian Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell.
“Held a productive discussion on scaling up the India-US trade and investment ties with USTR Katherine Tai,” he said.
With the WTO chief, the Indian minister deliberated upon greater cooperation to ensure free and fair trade among member countries.