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Promising Progress in India-UK Free Trade Agreement Talks, Says Piyush Goyal

On Thursday, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal noted the ongoing ‘extremely well’ progress in negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK. He anticipates a swift conclusion to the talks. He asserted that both parties are confident about achieving a ‘very’ fair, equitable, and balanced agreement that aligns with the best interests of their economies and populations.

Addressing the UK’s request for import tariff exemptions on automobiles, whisky, and dairy products, Goyal emphasized the fervent advocacy from both India and the UK. They are actively promoting their respective demands and concerns.

“There is hardly an issue on which we are not negotiating and I assure you that it will be a strong and hard outcome that will come out of all these negotiations… I believe we have to talk with sincerity, with speed but ensuring balance… and we are both committed to come up with a win-win solution for both countries. I hope it can happen at an early date,” Goyal told reporters.

The UK delegation is here for the TIMM, or Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting.

Here, the 12th round of negotiations between India and the UK is taking place.

They have completed 19 of the proposed FTA’s 26 chapters. Investment is the subject of separate negotiations between India and the UK (a bilateral investment treaty).

The key discussion points for this round cover the investment treaty, duty reductions on whisky and cars, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, and service-related issues.

In relation to the proposed trade agreement with the European Union, the minister explained that ongoing discussions might take more time due to the involvement of the EU’s 27 member states.

This extended duration is necessary to reach consensus among the 27 nations, similar to our own deliberations with these countries. Both the EU and India have a full commitment to this accord, which consequently extends the process.

In New Delhi, the minister has scheduled separate meetings with his counterparts from the UK and the EU to evaluate the progress of negotiations.

When asked if this round of negotiations between representatives from India and the UK would be the last, he responded, “We should allow our officials to negotiate for good outcomes. Good outcomes are not possible with limiting the ability to explore new areas and new avenues.”

The nations are also discussing a bilateral investment treaty. From USD 17.5 billion in 2021–2022 to USD 20.36 billion in 2022–2023, the two nations’ bilateral trade grew.

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