Britain’s Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch.
– Photo: Twitter
Britain’s trade minister, in charge of negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, on Tuesday admitted there was a “slight impasse” in the talks, which he broke in New Delhi last month. UK Trade Minister Cammy Badenoch said the deal was now back on track. He said the Diwali 2022 deadline for the FTA set by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October last year amid political turmoil in the UK was not possible and hence had to be changed.
In his speech at Lancaster House in London, Cammy Badenoch laid out his top five priorities for business. The minister stressed that she sincerely wanted a solution to the problem and was confident that a high-quality deal would be struck with India. Kemi told the business gathering that some of you may know that I was a software engineer and systems analyst before becoming a politician. It means I am a problem solver at heart. He said that so when there was a slight deadlock in our Indian trade talks, I did not pick up the phone, instead I boarded the plane and reached Delhi. The deal isn’t done yet, but it’s back on track.
Seventh round of talks expected in UK
Badenoch arrived in New Delhi in early December to hold talks with her counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, and launch the sixth round of FTA talks. A seventh round of talks is expected in Britain in the coming weeks, with both sides reluctant to set a new deadline for completing the talks.
Listing trade deals as one of his top priorities, the British minister said that we will seal high-quality deals with India and the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership). They have a combined population of nearly two billion consumers opening up exciting opportunities in fast-growing markets for years to come.
But I want to clarify that it is not our intention to merely sign on the dotted line, Kemi said. These deals will only be agreed upon if they are the right deals for the people of this country. Our aim is to bring jobs and investment to marginalized communities and to take advantage of the areas in which we specialize. Referring to the work his Department for International Trade (DIT) is doing to open up the Indian market to UK businesses, the minister cited the example of a pet food company in north-west England. A Lancashire firm called VetPlus has recently approached the DIT over paperwork problems selling pet food products in India. They announced that we fixed it. And the company now expects to generate an additional £1.5 million in business over the next five years.
Laying out her plans for 2023, the business minister said 100 unnecessary barriers would be removed to help UK businesses sell more and grow more, create new jobs and pay higher wages He is committed to removing trade barriers. “I want to make Britain the most attractive place to invest in Europe, attracting companies from all over the world,” she said.
According to official figures from the UK government, India-UK bilateral trade currently stands at around 29.6 billion British pounds per annum. The two sides formally launched FTA negotiations early last year with the ambition of significantly boosting two-way exchanges.
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