UKIBC Chair’s Dinner – The UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

By Kealan Finnegan

On 22 July, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) was delighted to host its first in person event in 18 months; a Chair’s Dinner to discuss a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

UKIBC Former Chair, and Adviser to the Board of Trade, Rt. Hon Patricia Hewitt together with UKIBC Chair Richard Heald led the discussions during which they were joined by colleagues from the Department for International Trade (DIT) FTA Negotiating Team, as well as UKIBC Strategic Partners and Corporate Plus members.

The conversation highlighted the huge potential for two-way trade and investment, and noted how partnerships between businesses in both countries (supported by government) were creating exciting innovations – such as that of Oxford University, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India to create a COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement of the Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) and the FTA negotiations signal the importance of the bilateral relationship and the potential to take it to new levels.

The close relationship between UK Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, and India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal, is one of great significance. The two share an understanding of the strategic and economic importance of trade and a determination for the FTA to succeed. There is therefore a bullishness that an Agreement, or rather an Interim Agreement leading to a wider deal, can be done.

When deliberating on what should be included in a future UK-India FTA, it was noted that improving the ease of doing business in India must remain a priority as this would increase bilateral economic flows. In addition to sharing useful feedback, reform recommendations, and questions, common themes discussed by businesses during the dinner were tariffs, investor protection, data protection, standards, and IP and the need for regulatory security.

We would like to thank all guests who joined on the evening for their valuable contribution to this vital discussion.

As part of the UK Government’s 14-week business consultation – which will run until the end of August – DIT has launched a survey seeking input on which aspects of our current trading arrangements with India we should look to improve or amend. If you have not done so already, we would encourage you to complete the survey using the link below to ensure that the voice of business is heard!

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