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Talks on UK-India trade deal linger


Talks on UK-India trade deal lingerOctober 20, 2023

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s next visit to India does not look imminent unless the ongoing talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries suddenly conclude successfully.

Sunak was last in India to attend the G20 Summit in September.

So far, theUK government hasnotannounced adateand the External Affairs Ministryhasnot issuedany relatedincoming-visitnotice.

The Indian media had reported that Sunak’s visit was expected over October 28-29, when the UK-India FTA wouldlikelybesignedand that he might watch a live cricket match between England and India.

Sunak was in Israel on Thursday to meet leaders amid the escalating Israel-Hamas war.

Themonths-long FTA negotiationsbetween India and the UKhaveyetto lead toamutually agreeablecompletedraft.Although,according todiplomatic sources,there is political will on both sides to deliver a comprehensive deal.

TheBritishHigh CommissioninNewDelhidid not commentwhen askedwhat issuesareslowingprogressbut said the two sidesare working on itand reiteratedthe UK government’s position.

“The UK and India continue to work towards an ambitious trade deal that works for both countries,”a spokesperson from the High Commission in Delhitold IANS.

“We have always been clear we will only sign a deal that is fair, balanced and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy.”

UK Trade SecretaryKemi Badenochhad saidduring her visit to India in AugusttheFTAtalks were in the “final stages” but that a deadline could not begiven.

Thenegotiations seem to havegotten toughersince.

Theyare inthe most complex phase,dealing with issues,including goods, services and investment, the sources said, adding that thehardest part ofsuchtalks always comesat the end.

The London-based Financial Times newspaperhasreported thatSunak’s hopes ofsecuring the India trade deal this month appear to have faded, with talks stuckin partover access to Indian markets for British professional services, includinglaw and accountancy firms.

India is seeking more visas for Indian workers in the UKandgreater market access for skilledprofessionals in technology and healthcare,Indianmediahavereported.

Bilateral trade wasmore than36 billion pounds last year.A website ofBadenoch’s departmentsaystheUK wants to double trade with India by 2030.

The Union Commerce Ministry did notimmediatelyrespond toarequest for comment.




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