India and the UK are set to hold their next round of talks for a proposed free trade agreement in June. The negotiations were launched in January 2021, covering 26 policy areas/chapters, including investment, which is being negotiated as a separate agreement. The tenth round of negotiation is scheduled for June 5-9, with both sides aiming to conclude the talks at the earliest.
Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Santosh Kumar Saranagi emphasized that trade negotiations are a matter of give and take, and elections in individual countries have nothing to do with it. While India is due to have general elections next year, Saranagi stated that the negotiations aim to be expedited, and both sides will make a substantial progress during the June talks.
So far, 13 chapters have been substantially closed for negotiations, and regular meetings have been held at higher levels to review the progress of talks and resolve outstanding issues. Both sides have also discussed modalities for exchange of offer in goods and services. The negotiations were set to conclude last year by Diwali, but were extended due to various reasons.
Investment is being negotiated as a separate agreement, a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which will be concluded simultaneously with the India-UK free trade agreement (FTA).
India’s commerce secretary and EU’s DG (Trade) will also meet in August to review the progress of the fifth round of talks for a trade pact between India and the European Union (EU), scheduled for June 19-23 in India. The fourth round of negotiations was completed in March, covering 21 policy areas in 74 technical sessions.
Regarding the India-Canada trade agreement, negotiations are at an advanced stage in goods and services market access, and the seventh round of talks was held in April. The interim agreement may cover areas like SMEs, trade and gender, environment, and labor. On the comprehensive India-Australia agreement, the 3rd and 4th round of negotiations are set to be held during 5th-16th June and 3rd-14th July, respectively, aiming for an early conclusion of the negotiations.
The second Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) meeting of G20 is scheduled to be held on May 23-25 in Bengaluru. In dedicated technical sessions, G20 delegates will deliberate on priority on WTO reform, along with key deliverables on identified priority issues on trade for growth and prosperity, resilient global value chains, integrating MSMEs in global trade, and efficient logistics for trade. The meeting will set the stage for building consensus among G20 countries on deliverables and outcomes proposed by India on global trade and investment-related issues.
In conclusion, with the India-UK free trade agreement negotiations being expedited, we can expect significant progress during the June talks. The agreement would enhance trade relations between the two countries and provide opportunities for investment and economic growth. The talks with other countries also aim to strengthen India’s trade relations globally.