UK India Business Council welcome commitments by PM Modi and Johnson towards FTA and agreements announced under Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

By Kealan Finnegan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson concluded the two-day visit to India with a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi today.

Together, our Prime Ministers re-affirmed their continued commitment to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and 2030 Roadmap, with a series of agreements across healthcare, education, defence and security, climate action, and trade and investment.

Ahead of the third round of FTA negotiations, which will begin in Delhi next week, both Prime Ministers also reiterated their respective governments’ target for a comprehensive FTA by the end of the year.

At a joint conference following the bilateral, Prime Minister Johnson spoke of taking forward the 2030 Roadmap and strengthening the UK-India relationship at the same time as supporting each other in key domestic goals such as Make In India.

The UKIBC welcomes the increasingly positive momentum in the bilateral dialogue and in these agreements specifically, which address issues raised by members and clients throughout our FTA consultation and subsequently with both Governments in submissions and roundtables throughout the FTA process.

UKIBC Executive Chair, Richard Heald, said: “Agreements such as those announced today by Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Johnson undoubtedly help to grow exports, create jobs, investment, and strengthen collaboration between the UK and India, benefitting both our countries and contributing to global efforts towards climate action and regional security. They also help to build momentum towards a future bilateral FTA.

These are encouraging outcomes all the more so since Prime Minister Johnson had earlier announced more than £1 billion in new investments and export deals in areas from software engineering to healthcare on his first day in India, spent in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat. Businesses are deeply established in both countries already and are collaborating across the UK-India corridor very positively. Today’s announcements in support of the FTA and 2030 Roadmap will help to enlarge that success to the benefit of business and consumers.”

UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole, said: “We welcome Prime Minister Johnson’s target of a “deal by Diwali”. For this to happen, I think there will have to be four important ingredients – 4Ps.

The first two Ps are pace and positivity; both have been evident since negotiations were launched, and there is no sign of any let-up. The third P is pragmatism. I understand that negotiators and Ministers will be pragmatic. They will focus on what can be done, not on what cannot. The fourth, and I think most important, P is political will. Ministers, and indeed Prime Ministers, on both sides seem committed. They know the economic benefits – more investments, more jobs, and more prosperity, and they recognise that a trade deal strengthens the overall bilateral relationship.”

The series of agreements announced by the two Prime Ministers include:

  • Defence and Security: to work together to boost security in the Indo-Pacific, support from the UK to collaborate with India on new fighter jet technology, helicopters and collaboration in the undersea battlespace. The UK will also issue an Open General Export License (OGEL) to India, to ease defence procurement related timetables
  • Healthcare: PM Johnson referenced the UK and India’s valuable and ongoing mutual support throughout the ongoing pandemic, building on the transformative collaboration between Oxford University, Astra Zeneca Ltd and the Serum Institute of India on vaccines, as well as measures to export medical devices from the UK to India.
  • Climate action and energy security: A new plan to develop offshore wind and a virtual Hydrogen Science and Innovation hub to accelerate affordable green hydrogen technologies, as well as new funding for the green grids solar initiative that our PMs launched at their last in person meeting at COP26 in Glasgow.
  • Education: An agreement to secure mutual recognition of qualifications in higher education was announced and both Prime Ministers welcomed the ongoing efforts to establish transnational education programmes in India and the UK.

The UKIBC welcomes the continuing and close collaboration between India and the UK, our two Prime Ministers and their continued support for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. We will continue to work with our clients, members, as well as the wider UK and Indian business communities, and with both Governments to support the FTA process and the overarching UK-India relationship.

Read the Joint Statement on the Visit of the Prime Minister of UK to India here.

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