The UK India Business Council welcomes the launch of the UK Government’s 14-week business consultation in preparation for UK-India FTA negotiations. The consultation, launched by UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, will capture the views of businesses in the UK ahead of FTA negotiations which could start as early at autumn 2021.
The UKIBC has long advocated a UK-India FTA. We believe it is both the right ambition and is eminently achievable. Our countries traded GBP 24 billion worth of goods and services in 2019 and, critically, have since cooperated on numerous occasions during the COVID-19 crisis to support each other in times of need. This crisis will pass and both the UK and Indian economies are anticipated to grow significantly during 2021 with the UK forecast to grow at more than 7 percent and India at over 10 percent. This offers a real opportunity to build a strong sustainable relationship.
UKIBC Chair Richard Heald said, “The voice of business will be crucial to successful trade negotiations and so the launch of HMG’s pre-FTA business consultation is most welcome. Businesses are enthusiastic about the opportunities presented by the possibility of a comprehensive UK-India Free Trade Agreement. Business and the UKIBC will play their parts.”
UKIBC Managing Director Kevin McCole said, “It matters when the 5th and 6th biggest economies in the world form a trade partnership, so the ETP and the FTA are potential game-changers for businesses and consumers – doubling trade to GBP50 billion per year by 2030.
The export of goods and services, investment, and employment between the UK and India binds our two countries together and produces innovation and excellence for the benefit of both populations. We’re delighted to support the UK and Indian Governments on the path to an FTA and will work closely with our members and clients to make sure that the Governments are well-informed before negotiations begin, and, indeed, throughout the negotiations.”
The announcement today follows the signing of the Enhanced Trade Partnership by Ms Truss and Indian Minister of Commerce Shri Piyush Goyal on 4th May 2021. The UKIBC sees this a critical path item towards a comprehensive FTA, removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to business and enveloping a strong and mutually beneficial economic relationship.
Barriers are already being removed. On signing the ETP, the Governments announced that non-tariff barriers on fruit and medical devices will be lowered. There was also a commitment to deepen co-operation in educational services including the mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, which will help Indian students to study and work more fluidly between the UK and India. A pledge to work to remove barriers in the Indian legal services sector is another step that could significantly increase trade and collaboration. It is also hugely encouraging that lowering or removing current tariffs such as those of up to 150% on whisky and up to 125% on automotive have been highlighted as objectives of the ETP and FTA negotiations.
To support the business consultation the UKIBC will continue to engage with our members and clients, namely UK and Indian businesses, and with both Governments. Our sector advocacy groups cover food and drink, higher education, digital and data, energy transition and climate economy, aerospace and defence, sports betting and gaming, insurance, and financial and professional services. Through these groups, and other channels, we are committed to opening up greater opportunities in the UK-India economic corridor in support of a successful conclusion of the FTA discussions.