India UK Free Trade Agreement: Press Trust of India quoted government sources as saying that the ongoing talks for the proposed free trade agreement between India and Britain are likely to be completed by March 2023.
India and the UK began talks for a free-trade agreement (FTA) in January with an aim to conclude talks by Diwali (24 October), but political developments in the UK have missed the deadline. The agreement has 26 chapters, covering goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.
Sources said the commerce ministry has set an internal deadline of March next year to close the FTA.
The reduction or elimination of customs duties under the agreement will help boost exports of Indian labor-intensive sectors such as textiles, leather and gems, and jewelry to the UK market.
Britain is seeking tariff concessions in sectors such as Scotch whiskey and automobiles. New Delhi is also looking for easier business and temporary visa norms for skilled professionals.
Experts have raised concerns that India should not relax its intellectual property rights norms under the trade deal.
Bilateral trade between the two countries to increase to $17.5 billion in 2021-22 from $13.2 billion in 2020-21. India’s exports in 2021-22 were $10.5 billion, while imports were $7 billion.
India’s main exports to the UK include readymade garments and textiles, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment and parts, spices, metal products, machinery and equipment, pharma, and marine commodities.
Major imports include precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scrap, engineering goods, professional equipment, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and machinery.
The UK is also a major investor in India. New Delhi to attract foreign direct investment of $1.64 billion in 2021-22. Between April 2000 and March 2022, this figure was around $ 32 billion.
In the services sector, the UK is one of the largest markets in Europe for Indian IT services.