Blog: UK-India driving a sustainable outlook for a future FTA

By Surbhi Mathur

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, supported by a 2030 Roadmap, is considered as the commencement of a path to stronger ties between two countries, the UK and India, with two different missions, yet, one vision. Whereas in India a clarion call for ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ (Self-reliant India) is gaining grounds, the UK is engaging with new parts of the world, particularly the Indo-Pacific, post its exit from the EU, with a vision of ‘Global Britain’.

Where the chord strikes between our two countries is in their approach for achieving their respective development goals through international cooperation and partnerships across diverse sectors. The Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP), launched as part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and marking the beginning of the 2030 Roadmap, outlines an ambitious UK-India agenda inviting new investments of GBP 1 billion.

An aspect I find exciting and important is that the roadmap holds an economic and trade partnership based on sustainability and a global outlook. Opportunities in clean energy, climate change, green finance, fintech, green technologies and fostering global innovation partnerships, stated as part of the ETP, intertwine perfectly with the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

International cooperation is an important part of the sustainable development goals, in fact Goal 17 is exactly that ‘Partnerships for Goals’. We see the UK and India working towards such partnerships, the first example visible is the health cooperation over the past year, where the COVID-19 pandemic warranted the countries to come together to find a common solution. The Serum Institute of India’s (SII) collaboration with University of Oxford-AstraZeneca to provide for production and manufacturing of vaccination is not only a bilateral collaboration but also correlates with an important SDG (3) ‘Health and Well Being’. The vaccine manufactured has been sent to about 95 countries including underdeveloped nations such as Argentina, El Salvador, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Sudan, upholding an essential goal of ensuring equitable access to health and immunisation. At the G7 in June, Prime Minister Modi continued the call for equitable distribution of vaccines and Prime Minister Johnson led the summit in committing 1 billion vaccines for poorer nations.

Similarly, we see that the 2030 Roadmap emphasises cooperation in areas such as renewable and clean energy, green technologies, waste management, sustainable finance, electric mobility, and green hydrogen, which directly and indirectly have an impact on the Sustainable Development Goals. Once initiated, these collaborations, are expected to allow profound engagements between the UK and India in sectors such as energy, automotive, waste management, enhancing science and technology partnerships, innovation, advanced engineering amongst others. They would also contribute significantly towards reduction in carbon emissions directly supporting SDG  (6) Clean and Affordable Energy, (7) Clean Water and Sanitisation, (13) Climate Change, and (15) Life on Land; as well as indirectly supporting SDG (9) ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’ and (11) ‘Sustainable Cites and Communities’.

To add to them, these partnerships are expected to lead into job creation, infrastructure development and financial stability again supporting SDG – (8) ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, SDG (1) Zero Poverty’, and SDG (10) ‘Reducing Inequalities’ across both the countries and positively impacting the entire value chain.

UKIBC, through its member engagements and initiatives such as the Socio-Economic Impact Campaign, our recently constituted Energy Transition and Climate Economy Group, and as signatory to the British High Commission’s ‘Gender Pledge for Progress’, is working closely with its stakeholders – the UK industry, the British and Indian government, and think tanks to create platforms to ensure rightful implementation of the government plans driving the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership towards a future FTA, which is based on mutual benefits and sustainable growth.

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