UKIBC, NASSCOM and techUK develop joint position paper to drive growth in digital and IT sectors

By UK India Business Council (UKIBC)

When Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson declared their shared intent to initiate discussions on a comprehensive UK-India Free Trade Agreement in May 2021, they also set a target to double bilateral trade by 2030. The Indian IT industry has welcomed this declaration to deepen our long-standing trade and investment relationship, and is keen to play its part in achieving the ambitious target.

With this in mind, the leading industry associations for the technology sector in India and UK – UK India Business Council, NASSCOM, and techUK – have come together to develop a joint position paper on a policy agenda for both governments to consider in relation to cross-border data transfers between the UK and India.

The paper has been developed through consultation with industry in both the UK and India. It considers the opportunity presented by the initiation of the FTA negotiations in parallel with the ongoing domestic reform exercises on data regulation taking place in both countries.

The paper offers recommendations for both governments to consider in relation to:

  1. Potential clauses on international data transfers under any future India-UK FTA;
  2. Directions to consider to align their domestic regimes on international data transfers;
  3. Directions to consider to build towards a mutual data adequacy partnership.

Through this paper, the UKIBC, NASSCOM and techUK seek to underline the importance that free and open data transfers hold for the India-UK digital trade corridor. The UK is the second largest market for the Indian IT industry, contributing almost 17-18% to the export revenue. We are confident that the technology sector will continue to be a critical linchpin of this bilateral partnership.

UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole, said: “The UKIBC, NASSCOM and techUK partnering shows the significance of data protection policies to businesses and to the bilateral trade and investment relationship. Indeed, one of the UKIBC’s top recommendations to both Governments for the forthcoming FTA negotiations is to align IP and data protection rules so as to drive growth in the innovative, tech-rich, and digitally-led industries that will increasingly important expanding India-UK. We look forward to continuing to support business and both Governments throughout the FTA negotiations to establish a closer and future-proofed trading relationship.”

NASSCOM Vice President & Head of Policy, Ashish Aggarwal, said: “The COVID19 pandemic has reiterated that technology adoption and digital modernisation is the way forward. Technology exchanges, co-creation and joint innovation will become key drivers for any bilateral relationship to flourish. A right balance between access to and safety of data will create enabling grounds for data led innovation and utilising emerging technologies like AI, ML, IOT etc for addressing global challenges. India-UK data adequacy agreement will enhance digital co-operation, deepen the existing technology partnership and ensure ethical access to and effective use of data. NASSCOM is pleased to note that today’s discussion brings together policy makers and industry members on this important theme.”

techUK CEO, Julian David, said: “techUK is pleased to partner with NASSCOM and UKIBC on highlighting the importance of free and open data transfers for the UK-India digital trade corridor. Digital and data services are going to drive the future trading partnership between the UK and India, and it is therefore important that digital trade is central to future bilateral trade relations. To deepen tech collaboration and drive innovation across borders we must ensure that a future trade agreement includes strong provisions for cross-border data flows with an adequate data protection regime, removal of data localisation requirements, increased mobility of talent and investment whilst also reducing barriers to business growth. We will continue working with the UK and Indian tech communities to advocate for comprehensive digital trade arrangements in the future UK-India trade relationship.”

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