The free trade agreement (FTA) talks between India and the UK are now in their final phase and despite some outstanding issues to be resolved, there is optimism on both sides that the Diwali deadline for a draft will be met, according to the Lord Mayor of London.

Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny recently met with leading Indian businesses and investors and finance chiefs at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on a four-day trip.

As London’s ambassador for financial and professional services, his visit was aimed at strengthening India-UK financial services links, building strong and sustainable two-way capital flows.

“It was a really good time to be in India with the FTA negotiations entering into their final phase,” Keaveny said.

“Prime Minister Modi has made it clear that he wants to sign the FTA by Diwali. There are some outstanding issues to be resolved but I think there’s a lot of optimism on both sides that we will get that done. Whatever the content of the agreement, it will be a real positive for the relationship between India and the UK across the board in the coming years,” he said.

Enhancing connectivity

Keaveny, who also addressed the Global Fintech Festival in Mumbai earlier this week, highlighted the huge demand for digital services in India as a sign of the growing India-UK exchanges in the field.

“London is Europe’s top fintech hub. And we can all see that India is on the way to becoming Asia’s top fintech hub – with the highest fintech adoption rates in the entire world and the emergence of many unicorns,” he said.

“As well as talent, we have the opportunity to enhance the connectivity between the UK and India fintech ecosystems – both business-to-business connections, but also connections through hubs and accelerators. Underscored by the UK-India relationship being at an all-time high. The free trade agreement negotiations will pave the way for significantly stronger trade flows between our nations significantly,” he added.

With reference to his discussions with RBI and SEBI, the Lord Mayor described very “positive engagements” on sustainable finance as an area of “tremendous opportunity”.