India and the United Kingdom are engaged in negotiations over a free trade agreement (FTA) and are hopeful of finding a “landing point” that works for both sides, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar is on a five-day visit to the UK, which the ministry of external affairs said will “give a new impetus to the friendly ties between the two countries.”
Speaking at a Diwali reception organized by the High Commission of India at Westminster Hall in London, Jaishankar said, “We are focusing on what is officially called an enhanced trade partnership. In common sense, it’s called FTA (free trade agreement), and that is today very much the focus of what the Indian and British systems are negotiating and where we hope that we will find a landing point which will work for both of us.”
“India and the UK have a long history and a very complex history. What we are trying to do is to make history a positive force with our commonalities, shared practices, and institutions… to make history work for us,” he added.
On his visit, Jaishankar met UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and newly appointed foreign secretary David Cameron.
India and the UK have been negotiating a free trade agreement since January 2022 and have held 13 rounds of negotiations.
India was the UK’s 12th largest trading partner in FY23, accounting for 2.1% of total UK trade.
Total trade between the UK and India in fiscal 2023 was £36.3 billion, a 34% jump from the previous fiscal year, data from the UK Department of Business and Trade showed.
UK’s exports to India during the period were at £14.7 billion, a 44% hike from the year earlier. The UK imported £21.6 billion worth of goods and services during the fiscal, a 28% increase from a year ago.
India’s main imports from the UK are non-ferrous metals, metal ores, power generators, beverages, and scientific instruments. On the other hand, India chiefly exports refined oil, clothing, telecom equipment, power generators, and medical products to the UK.
The India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was launched in 2021 along with the India-UK Roadmap 2030 which seeks to expand ties in a range of areas.
“The UK and India continue to work towards an ambitious trade deal as we continue round 13 of negotiations. While we do not comment on the details, we continue to engage with India actively and are clear that we will only sign a deal that is fair, balanced, and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy,” a spokesperson for the British High Commission had earlier told Press Insider.
“We have closed a majority of chapters, but the hardest one takes the longest. Our focus is on the most complex areas, including goods, services, and investment,” the spokesperson added.