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India-UK free trade pact talks made 'lot of progress': Britain's foreign minister.

Date: 31-10-2022
Subject: India-UK free trade pact talks made 'lot of progress': Britain's foreign minister
There is "a lot of progress" in negotiations between India and the United Kingdom on a free trade deal, Britain's foreign minister said, even as the post-Brexit deal missed the key Diwali deadline.

"We have made a lot of progress in the negotiations, and we continue to work for an agreement that works for both countries," James Cleverly said in a Times of India interview published Sunday. "We have been very, very explicit that our partnership with India is one that matters to us and one we want to enhance and develop," he was quoted as telling the paper during the two-day visit.
India and its former colonial ruler have been for about 18 months negotiating the pact to boost trade and investments between the countries. The aim was to conclude the talks by Diwali, but no new deadline to conclude the talks has been set, people aware of the developments said.

India's gains in lieu of likely duty cuts for British alcohol and automobiles, and visa flexibilities would be the focus areas. In exchange, India wants more work and study visas for its citizens in line with similar recent deals struck between Britain and Australia and New Zealand.

The prime ministers of both nations are set to resume talks and agreed on the need for early conclusion. Political changes in the UK and British home secretary Suella Braverman's recent remarks on Indians being the largest group of people overstaying in the UK were seen to be major hurdles in concluding a deal, according to officials.

Cleverly told the Times that he saw it "as a very positive thing that so many Indians want to come and study in the UK, that Indian businessmen want to do business in the UK. It's a cause for celebration."

"Of course, it does mean that we must ensure our processes are right."

However, Cleverly refused to be drawn on expectations that the appointment of Rishi Sunak, who is of Indian heritage, as prime minister could help boost ties.

"That said, it's lovely to see how much excitement and enthusiasm there is about the British PM here in India," he told the paper.


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