Negotiations on a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the United Kingdom (UK), which began 19 months ago, are now in their final stages, according to a top UK government official on Thursday.
The two countries are “actively discussing” aspects related to the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and local business mobility issues. UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch made the comments on the sidelines of the G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting in Jaipur.
Badenoch further clarified that matters of visa and visa liberalization are not part of the FTA framework as they fall under immigration issues. Instead, only occupational mobility is included in the framework.
“As with any negotiation, the hardest part comes at the end. We have closed many chapters and accomplished many, perhaps simple, tasks. We have reached agreements in many areas and we are now in the final stages. I can’t give a time frame; Anything can happen,” Badenoch told reporters.
“I am working closely with my counterpart, Minister Piyush Goyal, to ensure that we can deliver something that is mutually beneficial to both countries,” she said.
Badenoch began a three-day visit to India on 24 August, initially attending the G20 trade ministers’ meeting in Jaipur, then traveling to New Delhi for the Business 20 (B20) summit. He is also scheduled to meet Commerce and Industry Minister Goyal.
Commenting on the outcome of the ongoing G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting, Badenoch said that getting many countries to agree on a communique was very challenging. “From our perspective, what we are really emphasizing is that the war in Russia-Ukraine has had a significant impact on UK business, European business and global business. So looking at the members of the G20, it is quite difficult,” he said.
His visit coincides with the ongoing 12th round of FTA talks between India and the UK. The countries aim to resolve pending issues related to the FTA, such as rules of origin, bilateral investment treaty, intellectual property rights and other matters related to goods and services, by the end of the month. Of the total 26 chapters of the proposed FTA, 19 have been closed.