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Trade Secretary Badenoch Arrives in Jaipur for G20 Summit, Visa Talks with India Continue

Visa Talks continues between India and UK amid FTA

Recently, Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has landed in Jaipur today to participate in the G20 summit and engage in discussions with her counterparts from various nations. Notably, one of the key discussions revolves around India’s request for an increased allocation of work visas for its nurses in exchange for a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

It indicated that India is pressing for a larger number of work visas, emphasizing its nurses’ contribution to the UK’s healthcare system. Parallel to this increasing demand, India is also in talks with UK for expanded access to the job market of UK, particularly in the fields of information technology and financial consultancy, as reported by The Telegraph.

The negotiations between both countries are still in talk and UK is facing the challenge of balancing these demands against the pacing up immigration issue, which holds significant weight in the lead-up to the upcoming election.

UK’s Stance in the Matter

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had initially aimed for a deal to be struck before the Diwali festival in October 2022. However, doubts have arisen regarding the feasibility of achieving this milestone in time for the Diwali festival scheduled for November 2023.

Insiders from the British government have expressed cautious optimism about reaching an agreement promptly. However, the expectation for a deal to materialize before the G20 meeting in Jaipur, where Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is anticipated to attend, has been downplayed. Further discussions on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are projected for September.

Against the backdrop of these negotiations, there has been a call for a shift in focus from importing foreign talent to nurturing local skills. To address what some have termed ‘sky-high immigration,’ government officials are advocating for the development of domestic talent pools to address job vacancies more effectively.

The opposition party, Labour, has emphasized the need for a comprehensive overhaul of the skills system. This call comes ahead of the imminent release of the latest quarterly immigration statistics, expected today.

A government insider commented on the ongoing negotiations, noting, ‘While there is significant progress to be made in our discussions with India, the timeline is contingent on the deliberations taking place within the negotiation room. We have advanced in our negotiations, but the talks are immersed in intricate and technical matters spanning goods, services, and investment.’

UK Trade Secretary Badenoch Approach Towards Bilateral Ties

Trade Secretary Badenoch conveyed her appreciation for the robust bilateral ties between the UK and India. She praised the flourishing relationship and highlighted the ongoing negotiations for a substantial trade deal between the two nations.

During her stay, Badenoch is scheduled to engage in high-level talks with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. The discussions are set to enter their most challenging phase yet. Additionally, she plans to meet with prominent business leaders, including Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chairman of the Tata Group, which is currently constructing a £4 billion electric car battery ‘gigafactory’ in the UK.

To bolster the strong cultural connections between the nations, Badenoch is launching a new marketing campaign worth £1.5 million. The campaign aims to enhance demand for British products and foster greater investment from Indian companies.

Badenoch The Trade Secretary of UK expresses his views on Visas 

Badenoch expressed her enthusiasm for the trip, stating, ‘I am honoured to be back in India to support their G20 Presidency, advance our trade negotiations, and engage with key business leaders. The UK and India are in a dynamic relationship, where both nations are committed to deepening our cultural and trade ties. With India ranking as the UK’s second-largest source of investment projects, I am confident that this campaign will further stimulate interest in and demand for UK goods and services.’ 

The Trade Secretary’s visit coincides with the twelfth round of negotiations, a critical phase in the pursuit of a substantial post-Brexit trade agreement. These discussions build upon the existing annual trade volume of £36 billion between the UK and India.

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