Road to a UK-India Free Trade Agreement: Enhancing the Partnership and achieving Self-Reliance

On 4th May 2021, Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi launched a “transformational” UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which included a target to double trade by 2030 through an Enhanced Trade Partnership and an intention to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement. This ushers a new and exciting era for the bilateral relationship, and preparations for FTA negotiations are already underway.

At the same time, India is implementing one of its big-ticket reforms in recent years, Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, or the “Self-Reliant India Campaign”, a step taken by the Government of India to take a quantum leap towards becoming the third largest economy in the world by 2030.

Atmanirbhar Bharat was first announced by PM Modi on 12th May 2020, alongside a GBP 215.4 billion (INR 20 Lakhs Crore) COVID relief package, in response to the sudden economic and social shock induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The package offered a range of financial support measures for the weaker sections of India’s society, for micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), and for the agriculture sector, creating fair market platforms, easing rules for businesses, introducing public-private partnership (PPP) models across sectors, the privatisation of the power sector, and a range of other solutions to support the economy.

After contextualising the campaign and the Government of India’s objectives, this report outlines the views of UK businesses towards the policy and its potential impacts. The report concludes with a set of recommendations that we believe would support the campaign’s success and support the objectives of the Enhanced Trade Partnership and FTA.

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