Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson have endorsed the India-UK Enhanced Trade Partnership, agreeing on an early market access package for sectors such as medical devices, fisheries, nursing and fruits that could generate up to 25,000 new jobs.
The two also laid the roadmap for more than doubling the bilateral trade by 2030 and declared their intention to negotiate a ‘Free Trade Agreement’ at the India-UK Virtual Summit on Tuesday. “Had a productive Virtual Summit with my friend UK PM Boris Johnson. We adopted an ambitious Roadmap 2030 for elevating India-UK ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” said Modi in a tweet.
Modi and Johnson decided that, as part of confidence-building measures, the two countries will deliver an early market access package, said MEA Joint Secretary Sandeep Chakravorty at a press briefing following the meet.
The successful Covid-19 vaccine partnership through the Oxford-AstraZaneca-Serum Institute of India collaboration was highlighted at the Summit. “The two leaders agreed to expand partnership on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics on Covid-19 and beyond, through joint research including on nasal vaccines, regulatory and clinical trial co-operation,” Chakravorty said.
India and the UK also launched a comprehensive partnership on ‘migration and mobility’ that will facilitate greater opportunities for the mobility of students and professionals between the two countries, according to an official release. The roadmap 2030 lists a number of concrete, forward-looking and outcome-oriented activities/initiatives in five keys areas, namely, people-to-people contacts, trade and economy, defence and security, climate action and health, it said.
Its implementation will be closely monitored through annual strategic review meeting at the Foreign Minister level and the progress reported to the two prime ministers, the joint secretary said.
A new India-UK ‘Global Innovation Partnership’ was announced at the Virtual Summit for transfer of inclusive Indian innovations to select developing countries, starting with Africa. Both sides agreed to enhance co-operation on new and emerging technologies, including digital and ICT products, and work on supply chain resilience. They also agreed to strengthen defence and security ties, including in the maritime, counter-terrorism and cyberspace domains.
Both Prime Ministers also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including co-operation in the Indo-Pacific, and G7.
They reiterated commitment to climate action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and agreed to closely engage in the run up to CoP26 hosted by the UK later this year.
The Virtual Summit between Modi and Johnson is particularly important as the UK is now refreshing its network of economic and strategic ties with its traditional trade partners 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.