With Liz Truss becoming the new UK Prime Minister, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is looking forward to an early conclusion of talks with the UK for a free trade agreement aimed at boosting bilateral economic ties. ‘Slight political change may have derailed [the conclusion of the FTA talks] for a few weeks, but I hope [that] … with Liz Truss taking over as UK Prime Minister, we can now have some Making up for lost time. May be able (to end the FTA talks),’ Goyal said while addressing the members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) here on Monday.
Officials in India were looking to end talks for a trade deal by August 31, but political developments in Britain could slow talks. In January, the two countries formally began negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost bilateral trade and investment. It was launched when Boris Johnson was the Prime Minister and Truss was the International Trade Secretary. In such agreements, two countries eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on the maximum number of trade between them, in addition to easing norms to promote investment and services trade.
‘We are at an advanced stage (FTA talks) with the UK… Miss Anne-Marie, who is currently the Minister of Trade and Investment, and I are in regular contact and we are shooting an agreement between India and the UK. Huh. Huh. The next few months maybe till Diwali,’ Goyal said. He said that India has become one of the attractive investment destinations in the world and the way world leaders and developed countries are making every effort to expand trade and investment in India and seek bilateral agreement, it is clear.
Negotiations are on for some goods such as Scotch and automobiles from the UK side and some products from the Indian side. India’s main exports to the UK include ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment and parts, spices, metal products, machinery and equipment, pharma and marine goods.
Major imports include precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scrap, engineering goods, professional equipment, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and machinery. In the services sector, the UK is one of the largest markets in Europe for Indian IT services. Bilateral trade increased to US$ 17.5 billion in 2021-22 as compared to US$ 13.2 billion in 2020-21. India’s exports stood at USD 10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports stood at USD 7 billion.