Will UK PM Rishi Sunak visit India to finalise the FTA?

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India-UK Free Trade Deal: Some of the UK lawmakers want British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to visit India to finalise the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between both countries, for which talks began last year. 

Speaking in Parliament, UK lawmaker Lord Karan Bilimoria said that there was a need for large prime ministerial delegations to India and Prime Minister Sunak can lead one as soon as possible. He said India has the vision to become, within 25 years, the second-largest economy in the world with a GDP of $32 trillion. 

“The Indian Express has left the station. It is now the fastest train in the world—the fastest-growing major economy. The UK must be its closest friend and partner,” he said. 

A UK Foreign Office minister said negotiations between both countries for an ambitious FTA were well advanced, with the next round of talks set to commence very soon.

Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK Foreign Office Minister for South Asia, said the UK’s relationship with India is central to its foreign policy and as one of the world’s biggest economies it is a key partner.

Responding to the debate titled ‘The Importance of the Relationship Between the United Kingdom and India in the House of Lords’, Ahmad confirmed that negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement were well advanced and the next round of negotiations was set to commence very soon.

As one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies, he said, India is a key partner to the UK. Ahmad said his country was looking at lowering non-tariff barriers on medical devices to benefit British exporters and was well advanced in its negotiations for an ambitious and balanced trade agreement. 

India-UK bilateral trade currently stands at around 29.6 billion pounds a year, according to official UK government data. Both countries formally launched the trade negotiations in January last year with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a Diwali deadline for its conclusion.

However, the Liz Truss administration pushed the deadline further saying it was looking for a quality trade deal, not the deadline. 

Earlier, Sunak’s office said that a UK-India free trade deal has the potential to unlock investment and increase jobs in both our countries, as well as expand deep cultural links. 

(With inputs from PTI)