INTERNATIOONAL DESK: India and UK aim to launch negotiations on free trade agreement (FTA) by November 1 this year. The two sides look for an Interim agreement by March 22 and later a comprehensive agreement.
The matter came up during the discussions held between Piyush Goyal and his British counterpart Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss on FTA and other trade matters.
A Commerce Ministry release said proposed FTA between India and United Kingdom is expected to unlock extraordinary business opportunities and generate jobs.
Both sides have renewed their commitment to boosting trade in a manner that benefits all.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said there is tremendous interest in the business community in both countries India and UK about the FTA.
He said that since the ‘Declaration’ on launch of Enhanced Trade Partnership, announced by Prime Ministers on May 4 this year, both countries have made substantial progress on various aspects of the partnership.
The Minister said that there is a keenness to have an early conclusion of negotiations for quick and early economic benefits to businesses on both sides.
He added that substantial work has already been done and extensive stakeholder consultations and consultation paper was also made public for wider participation.
The Minister said that BWGs for different tracks have been formed to understand the ambitions, interests and sensitivities of each other to facilitate accelerated progress during negotiations. The meetings of these BWGs are presently in progress and are likely to be completed by the end of this month.
Goyal said he was hopeful that these BWG discussions would help both sides in understanding each other’s policy regimes and “would put us in a better position” when both sides begin their joint scoping discussions, beginning on 1st October 2021, for finalizing the TORs for the launch of negotiations in November.
Goyal said that an Interim Trade Agreement, as the first step of an FTA “would allow both of us to immensely benefit from the early gains of the partnership”.
In services, certain services of mutual interest may be included in the Interim Agreement through request offer approach “wherein we may include priority sectors which are immediately deliverable”.
“If necessary, we may also explore signing of few Mutual Recognition Agreements in selective services like nursing and architecture services,” he said.
Goyal emphasised the need to strike a balance between commitments and concessions in goods and services. (ANI)