Joint Economic and Trade Committee – It’s Just Not Cricket

By Kevin McCole

New Zealand’s shock win has somewhat dimmed the buzz surrounding the bilateral business activity taking place on Monday and Tuesday. The hope – or was it expectation - of an India – England final is dashed, at least for another four years.

But, as a Scotsman who does not claim to understand cricket, my enthusiasm for the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting on Monday is un-dimmed.

There are many positives to reflect upon since the 2018 JETCO, and much to look forward to.

Since Dr Fox and the former Indian Commerce Minister, Suresh Prabhu met, there has been excellent progress. From the macro – bilateral trade growing by 22%, to the micro – access to India for British lamb exports.

And the two working groups have left their mark: with the Smart Cities and infrastructure group publishing a report on market access barriers which is informing the next stage of the joint trade review; and the advanced manufacturing group’s key recommendation – the formation of a UK-India advanced manufacturing catapult – under consideration following a feasibility study.

The meeting on Monday is particularly exciting as it will be Piyush Goyal’s first visit to the UK as India’s newly appointed Commerce Minister. We’re delighted that he has agreed to be Chief Guest at a roundtable with major UK investors to discuss the Ease of Doing Business in India.

We are also really looking forward to launching three new B2B Working Groups to take a deep-dive into the non-tariff barriers currently inhibiting trade and then present recommendations to UK and Indian Ministers on how to address their hurdles. To create a sense of intrigue, I’ll have to leave you guessing as to what they are until Monday…

Another part of the JETCO programme I’m particularly looking forward to is the Plenary session. Not just because Liam Fox and Piyush Goyal will make speeches and take questions from the audience, but because the co-chairs of the UK-India CEO Forum – Sir Gerry Grimstone and Ajay Piramal – will also share their views on the future of the UK-India bilateral relationship. It should be a fascinating session.

In an important new development to JETCO, we’re really pleased that a wide variety of UK Government Departments will be involved. The Department for International Trade are in the lead, and we will be joined by senior officials from the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Intellectual Property Office, the FCO, and the Home Office. This wide Whitehall engagement signals the importance of India for HMG, and the range of Whitehall Departments engaged in supporting the bilateral trade and investment relationship.

In addition to being the pivotal bilateral forum to address bilateral trade issues, JETCO is an important opportunity to meet other businesses active across the UK and India. So I always enjoy it because I get to catch-up with lots of UKIBC members and friends. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much.



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