Road to a UK-India FTA: Consulting UK Businesses on Doing Business in India
Trade and Investment were front and centre when the Indian and UK Prime Ministers announced a “transformational” Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on 4 May 2021, with the signing of a UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) and commitments to double trade by 2030 and to start Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations by the end of 2021.
Businesses are active stakeholders in the process towards a Free Trade Agreement. As such, an active and open dialogue between business and Government will be critical to successful FTA negotiations and to achieving the wider ETP ambitions. The UK India Business Council (UKIBC), as the leading trade and investment organisation working in the UK-India corridor, therefore strongly supports the important business consultation undertaken by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) in preparing for the FTA negotiations.
The UKIBC hosted 18 pre-FTA consultation roundtables (in partnership with DIT) throughout July and August 2021 to gather intelligence from business and inform the FTA consultation process. The roundtables and wider consultation brought together almost 200 businesses of all sizes – SMEs to MNCs – from across the UK, including in regional-specific roundtables in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, the West Midlands, South-west of England, North-East England, London and Kent. We also held roundtables in a range of sectors: digital and data services; defence and aerospace; energy; food and drink; insurance; financial services; healthcare; and higher education.
The UKIBC has long advocated for a UK-India FTA. We believe it is both the right ambition and is eminently achievable. This summary of our formal submission to DIT and MoCI highlights a range of issues, on which businesses would like the UK and Indian Governments to focus to ensure that the target of doubling trade by 2030 is achieved.