The India-UK Virtual Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Tuesday should provide more details on the ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ initiated last year that could pave the way to a potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) has said.
Better market access
“Businesses are looking forward to the governments implementing an Enhanced Trade Partnership that addresses market access barriers in the short- and medium-term and begins the journey to an eventual FTA. We expect to see a change in the volume and nature of the trade and investment,” the UKIBC said in a release on Monday.
The Enhanced Trade Partnership was initiated by Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industries, and his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, last year. The Virtual Summit between Modi and Johnson is important as the UK is now refreshing its network of economic and strategic ties after exiting the European Union. Johnson had to cancel his in-person visit to India scheduled in January and then in April this year due to the continued spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“UK-India trade grew by 10% to £ 24 billion in the year before the pandemic,” the UKIBC said. “Nevertheless, there is great potential to do even better. The UK and India are the fifth and sixth largest economies in the world and they are both growing,” it said.
It is important that the ETP recognises the critical importance, to both countries, of knowledge- and technology-driven trade, such as digital, data, and financial services, it said. By reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers, the benefits will be felt across many sectors, it added.The UK and India have also been cooperating and supported each throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the business council stated.
“In the UK’s first wave the export of pharmaceuticals and PPE from India helped to save lives. The Oxford University-Astra Zeneca vaccine manufactured in Pune is one of the world’s leading vaccines, and now the UK is supporting the second wave in India through the export of oxygen concentrators, mobile oxygen factories, and ventilators,” it pointed out.