India and Britain are making significant strides towards finalizing a free trade agreement (FTA) this year, with both nations having achieved a consensus on the key aspects of the proposed deal. The agreement aims to bolster economic growth and create job opportunities. India’s commerce secretary, Sunil Barthwal, expressed the urgency to conclude the deal promptly, as negotiations on most contentious issues have already been completed. He remains optimistic that the agreement could be officially signed “much before” the end of the year.
The FTA holds immense importance for both countries. For India, it represents a crucial opportunity to enhance its export potential, while the UK stands to gain expanded access to Indian markets for its whisky, premium cars, and legal services. Notably, this would mark India’s first FTA with a developed country following an interim trade pact with Australia last year. For the UK, the agreement is a significant step towards forging diversified global trade relationships after its departure from the European Union in 2020.
The British Department for Business and Trade emphasized that although substantial progress has been made in closing chapters of the agreement, the focus now lies on high-ambition areas such as goods, services, and investment. The UK government is committed to signing a deal that is fair, balanced, and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy.
This impending FTA comes at a critical juncture for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who seeks to solidify New Delhi’s reputation as a business-friendly destination in preparation for the upcoming national elections in early 2024.