Progress of India-UK trade pact talks reviewed at highest level: Sources

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) With the negotiations for the proposed India-UK free trade agreement reaching an advanced stage, the Prime Minister's Office reviewed the progress of the talks on February 16, sources said.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal were also present in the meeting, they said.

"The talks for the agreement are at a crucial stage now. About three reviews have happened so far at the highest level," they said, adding both countries are working to iron out differences on the remaining issues.

The commerce secretary recently stated that the negotiations were taking time because "we want" to safeguard India's interest.

"India should commercially gain out of it and we should also be able to safeguard the interest of our farmers, PLI (production linked incentive) scheme goods. So, we are there to see that the deal is a fair deal," he said.

So far 13 rounds of talks have been completed and the 14th round started on January 10.

Some of the key issues involved in the pact include customs duty cut on electric vehicles and whiskey and the movement of professionals. Talks are also progressing on the proposed bilateral investment treaty (BIT).

India and the UK launched the talks for a free-trade agreement (FTA) in January 2022.

There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include 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 duties.

On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, automobiles, 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. PTI RR ANZ MR