India and UK on Verge of Finalizing Free Trade Agreement, Optimism Surrounds Negotiations
India and the United Kingdom (UK) are on the brink of finalizing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), with both countries expressing optimism about ongoing negotiations to resolve differences concerning the proposed agreement. This positive development was announced following the conclusion of the 12th annual India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue, co-chaired by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt.
During the dialogue, a wide range of issues, including macroeconomics, financial services, trade, infrastructure, investments, and green financing, were addressed. Following the meeting, both India and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to swiftly conclude the FTA between the two nations.
UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt highlighted the progress that has been made toward finalizing the FTA deal, stating, The next step for this is a comprehensive FTA and bilateral investment treaty, and I know discussions are ongoing as to how to finalize that as soon as possible. Sitharaman echoed Hunt’s sentiment and emphasized that negotiations would continue in order to iron out any differences related to the proposed FTA. She explained, Both sides are keen to conclude it as soon as possible.
In addition to the potential FTA, the joint statement revealed that India would explore the possibility of Indian companies directly listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). This move aims to strengthen financial ties between the two nations. Sitharaman also showcased the success of the India-UK Green Growth Equity Fund as evidence of the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in channeling sustainable finance at a large scale.
Furthermore, Sitharaman stressed the potential for collaboration between India and the UK in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. She also mentioned India’s recently enacted Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023 and highlighted the ample opportunities for both countries to collaborate on secure and inclusive financial intermediation frameworks.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt highlighted other areas of collaboration, including the establishment of the Pensions and Insurance Partnership and initiatives for knowledge and expertise sharing. He also mentioned the new UK Infrastructure Financing Bridge and the deepened partnership on India’s developmental GIFT City. Hunt stated, We can really support each other’s plans to strengthen the relationship, and the next step is a comprehensive FTA and Bilateral Investment Treaty.
This positive momentum in India-UK relations comes after Sitharaman and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s meeting at the G20 Summit on September 9. The leaders discussed mutual interests and areas of collaboration to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.
To further cement the relationship, both nations have launched the UK-India Infrastructure Financing Bridge, a collaborative venture co-led by NITI Aayog and the City of London Corporation. This initiative aims to harness collective expertise in planning and implementing major infrastructure projects.
In conclusion, India and the UK are making significant progress in finalizing a Free Trade Agreement and strengthening their economic ties. Both countries are optimistic about finding common ground and swiftly concluding the agreement. Additionally, they are exploring opportunities for collaboration in various sectors, including finance, technology, and infrastructure. The India-UK partnership holds immense potential for mutual growth and prosperity, and both nations are committed to navigating challenges and seizing opportunities for the benefit of their people.