Johnson promises India-UK FTA by Diwali

Raising the bar for the India-UK relations, the prime ministers of India and Britain have unveiled plans to  transform defence and security partnership and decided to conclude a landmark a free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson held wide-ranging talks in New Delhi on April 22 and signed on to an ambitious joint statement entitled, “Towards shared security and prosperity through national resilience,” which envisages all-round intensification of India-UK ties.

The conclusion of FTA will help transform economic relations by doubling bilateral trade. “The two leaders welcomed the launch of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations in January 2022 in New Delhi. They noted with satisfaction that good progress had been made already, and that the agreement of an FTA would unlock the full potential of the trade and commercial relationship, boosting jobs, investment and exports,” said the joint statement.

“They set a target to conclude the majority of talks on a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement by the end of October 2022,” said the statement.

“We are telling negotiators, ”Get it (FTA) done by Diwali,”’ a jubilant Johnson said at a press conference after the talks.

The two leaders underscored their commitment to transform defence and security cooperation as a key pillar of the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and enhance engagements in support of a free, open and secure Indo Pacific.

“The leaders agreed that the finalisation of the Logistics and Training MoUs will deepen understanding and trust and enable further collaboration and cooperation between the two nations. They agreed to expand cooperation in the maritime domain and called for early conclusion of the Maritime Information Exchange Arrangement on dark and grey shipping,” said the joint statement.  “They also called for increased engagements on critical and emerging domains of defence including space, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber.”

PM Modi hailed the conclusion of the implementation arrangements of the Global Innovation Partnership  and underlined that this will further strengthen our development partnership with other countries. Under this scheme, India and the UK will co-finance up to $100 million for transfer and scaling-up of “Made in India” innovations to third countries. “These will also help in achieving sustainable development goals, and in efforts to tackle climate change. This will prove to be very useful for our start-ups and MSME sector in exploring new markets, and in making their innovations global,” said PM Modi.