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India-UK trade pact: Work in progress to resolve pending issues

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi: Senior officials of India and the UK held negotiations last month on the outstanding issues of the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) and the work is in progress to iron out the differences.

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According to the commerce ministry, the Indian team visited London from April 16-19 for negotiations.

"The teams have made good progress and work is in progress in resolving pending issues. Chapter-wise textual negotiations are nearly closed and schedules on goods and services are at an advanced stage of negotiations," the ministry said.

The ministry, however, did not disclose further details.

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So far, 13 rounds of talks have been completed. The 14th round started in January.

There are 26 chapters in the agreement, including goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.

The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals from sectors like IT and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods at nil customs duty.

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On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, electric vehicles, lamb meat, chocolates, and certain confectionary items.

Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in Indian markets in segments like telecommunications, legal and financial services (banking and insurance).

The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22. On the India-European Union (EU) trade pact, the ministry said the eighth round of talks is scheduled from June 24-28 in Brussels.

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On May 7, the stocktaking meeting on the agreement between the Indian commerce secretary and EU director general was held.

The last round of talks were completed in February.

Further, the chief negotiators of India and South American nation Peru are likely to hold the next rounds of talks for a proposed FTA in July.

Seven rounds of talks have been completed so far.

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