UK India Business Council welcomes launch of ‘broad and ambitious’ UK-India FTA

By Kealan Finnegan

The UKIBC warmly welcomes the launch of UK-India FTA negotiations which was jointly announced in Delhi on Thursday 13th January by UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal.

A UK-India FTA is estimated to turbocharge trade between our countries by up to GBP 28 billion a year by 2035. It would also spur bilateral investment flows, building on the more than 500 UK businesses invested in India employing more than 400,000 people, and over 850 Indian companies in the UK employing over 95,000. Reducing the barriers and building on this strength would help to create more jobs, increase prosperity, and stimulate economic growth and wider development in both countries.

UKIBC Executive Chair, Richard Heald, said: “It matters greatly – for businesses and consumers – when the world’s 5th and 6th largest economies negotiate an FTA. The UKIBC congratulates and applauds all the officials and Ministers from both countries that have worked over the last few years to arrive at the launch of these important negotiations.

On behalf of business, we are particularly pleased that the negotiations are going to be broad and ambitious, covering goods and services, particularly the IP-rich, digitally-driven services where the UK and India already excel.”

Businesses in both countries stand to gain a lot from a simplified and strengthened bilateral trading arrangement. India is an increasingly attractive destination, with economists predicting it will be the world’s third largest economy and third largest consumer market by 2030. At the same time, the UK, as well as being a global economy, is also one of the world’s largest economies. It is the world’s leading financial centre and its science and technology base offers Indian companies great opportunities for collaboration in engineering, manufacturing, and infrastructure.

UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole, said: “From extensive UKIBC business consultations carried out last year across 20 roundtables involving around 200 companies, it is clear that businesses in both countries, across all sectors, have high hopes for the FTA negotiations and very much welcome the launch today.

Businesses want to see three focus areas in particular:

  • A reduction in tariffs, for example in food and drink and healthcare;
  • They want to see a greater alignment of standards and simplified customs procedures; and
  • Businesses want to see alignment of data protection rules and IP practices, so as to realise the full potential of the India-UK partnership, particularly in the innovative, R&D-intensive sectors that will drive the partnership in the years and decades to come.

Businesses are also interested in an interim, or early harvest deal. But they want this to be a building block to a comprehensive deal that will really transform the bilateral partnership, enabling the governments to hit their target of doubling trade to GBP 50 billion by 2030.”

The UKIBC once again congratulates both Governments on this momentous occasion and reiterates our commitment to continue to be a voice for business throughout the FTA negotiation process. The first round of negotiations is expected to begin next week.

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