UKIBC submit industry views to Government of India ahead of FTA negotiations

By Kealan Finnegan

Friday 17th September, 2021: UK India Business Council has today presented its pre-FTA submission to the Government of India, which makes a comprehensive series of recommendations, on behalf of business, to the Government in advance of UK-India FTA negotiations set to begin in late 2021.

The UKIBC’s submission captures inputs from around 200 companies – from SMEs to MNCs – representing a wide range of sectors including digital and data, food and drink, life sciences and healthcare, insurance and financial services, higher education, defence and aerospace, and energy. In sharing their views and experiences, businesses have been optimistic about what an FTA could mean for trade and investment in the UK-India corridor.

The submission was made at a virtual meeting with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the lead Indian Ministry for the FTA negotiations. The submission was welcomed and the UKIBC reiterated our commitment to continue to feedback the views of business in the run up to negotiations and, indeed, on an ongoing basis. Among the UKIBC’s recommendations are that the Governments’ FTA negotiations should focus on:

  • reducing tariffs, including, in the immediate term, on alcoholic spirits and medical devices;
  • reducing non-tariff barriers to goods trade, such as: aligning standards, and easing standards conformity procedures; simplifying burdensome and costly customs procedures; ensuring tax parity between UK and Indian businesses; and securing mutual recognition of qualifications in higher education and the professional services; and
  • measures to enable the growth in the innovative, tech-rich, and digitally-driven future focussed industries, such as such as IP protection and alignment of data protection rules.

The UKIBC also recommend that the Governments seek to sign a series of interim or mini Agreements that will, over time, form a fully Comprehensive FTA. This approach of reaching an “early harvest agreement” would: capitalise on the excellent momentum already created by the Governments; it would lock-in wins and deliver economic benefits on an ongoing basis; and it would build the trust, confidence and positivity that will be required to overcome more difficult issues on the road to a fully comprehensive FTA.

The UKIBC has long advocated a UK-India FTA. We believe it is both the right ambition and is eminently achievable. Our countries traded GBP 24 billion worth of goods and services in 2019 and have since cooperated on numerous occasions during the COVID-19 crisis to support each other in times of need. Both the UK and Indian economies are anticipated to grow significantly in 2021 and 2022, and as the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world already, the ETP and the FTA are potential game-changers for businesses and consumers – doubling trade to GBP50 billion per year by 2030.

The UKIBC will continue to work closely with the Indian Government and the UK Government as negotiations begin later this year and will continue to feed the voice of our members and clients throughout the FTA process.

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