London Deputy Mayor (trade) Rajesh Agrawal has said the UK and India possess a strong will to give the final shape to the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Speaking to PTI ahead of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention beginning on Sunday, Agrawal also said both countries have many opportunities to increase their partnerships in Information Technology, defence, professional services, and other sectors.

"Several rounds of talks have been held between the UK and India to enhance the bilateral partnership for finalising the FTA. The willpower of both sides is very strong regarding the FTA," Agrawal said.

He said there are many opportunities to enhance the partnership between the two countries in the sectors such as IT, defence, professional services, legal services, life sciences, and start-ups.

Also read: India exports ₹2,400 cr of jewellery to Australia under FTA

The economic relationship between the two countries can be gauged from the fact that Indian companies, including the Tata Group and individual IT firms, are providing around 80,000 jobs in London alone, he said.

Even during the fierce Covid-19 outbreak, Indian companies have increased their businesses across the world, which is an indicator of the country's economic progress, Agrawal added.

Queried on the possibility of an economic slowdown in the world, Agrawal said, "India's local market is very strong and the country's economy is highly resilient. Although global events do have some impact on every country, I feel India is largely safe from it (from the threat of economic slowdown)".

He said India is one of the leading countries in IT and pharmaceutical manufacturing, and added industrial production activities are also picking up pace. "The world is looking towards India as it is the fastest growing economy and the global growth engine", he said.

Agrawal also said in talent-rich India, the government appears to have the will to encourage investment and entrepreneurship. "India's biggest strength is its democracy and friendliness of western countries towards India," he said.

Underlining the contribution of the Indian diaspora in the development of the country, Agrawal said the diaspora sends around $90 billion every year to their country.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement is absolutely correct that NRIs are like a living bridge between India and the world. Overseas Indians are the country's unofficial ambassadors to the world and they are strengthening the brand India," he said.

Born and brought up in Indore, Agrawal is the first person of Indian origin to serve as the Deputy Mayor of London for a second consecutive term.

"There are about 6.5 lakh people of Indian origin living in London and they have made a huge contribution to the politics, economy, arts and culture there", he said.

Also read: India-UK FTA to boost textile production, says Goyal

Agrawal said his hometown Indore has already made its global mark as the cleanest city in India.

Indore, known as the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, has huge investment potential in processing soybean, millets and dairy, he added.

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