India and the United Kingdom plan to launch negotiations on a trade deal between the two nations by 1 November 2021, the commerce and industry said on Tuesday.
Both nations are looking at an interim trade deal by March next year, which will be followed by a comprehensive FTA. The interim deal will involve early concessions on certain key high-priority products and services related to tariffs or market access
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said that an interim trade agreement is the first step towards an FTA that would allow both nations to immensely benefit from the early gains of the partnership.
This was taken up during Goyal’s discussions with his British counterpart secretary of state Elizabeth Truss on Monday.
Certain services of mutual interest could be included in the interim agreement through request-offer-approach where India may include priority sectors that are immediately deliverable. “If necessary, we may also explore signing a few mutual recognition agreements in selective services like nursing and architecture services,” Goyal said.
“Proposed FTA between India & UK is expected to unlock extraordinary business opportunities and generate jobs . Both sides have renewed their commitment to boosting trade in a manner which benefits all,” an official statement said.
In May, India and the UK had inked nine pacts, including the launch of an enhanced trade partnership (ETP), which would include negotiating a comprehensive FTA and an interim trade agreement for delivering early gains.
There is tremendous interest in the business community in both countries about the FTA, the minister said, adding that there is keenness to have an early conclusion of negotiations for ‘quick and early economic benefits’ to businesses on both sides.
“Substantial work has already been done and extensive stakeholder consultations have been held involving industry/business associations, export promotion councils, buyers/sellers associations, regulatory bodies, ministries/departments, public research bodies, etc. The consultation paper was also made public for wider participation as well,” he said.
Working groups have also been set up to accelerate progress during negotiations. The meetings of these BWGs are presently in progress and are likely to be completed by September 2021.