Sunak optimistic about FTA with India this year

PM stressed there was “still hard work to do” and said an agreement had to “work for both countries.”…reports Asian Lite News

In a strong indication to clinch a deal this year, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that India and the United Kingdom have made enormous progress toward signing a free-trade agreement. 

Rishi Sunak said, “Both Modi Ji and I are keen to see a comprehensive and ambitious trade deal concluded between our two countries. Both of us think that there is a good deal to be done.”

The premier stressed there was “still hard work to do” and said an agreement had to “work for both countries.”

“I think there is an enormous opportunity for both India and the UK to strengthen our economic cooperation which will bring real benefits to our citizens in both countries,” the PM added.

The two leaders (PM Modi and Rishi Sunak) noted with satisfaction the progress in diverse areas of bilateral cooperation as per the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership as well as the Roadmap 2030, particularly in economy, defense and security, technology, green technology and climate change, health, and mobility sectors.

Both leaders also exchanged views on international and regional issues of importance and mutual They also reviewed the progress of Free Trade Agreement negotiations and expressed hope that the remaining issues could be addressed at the earliest so that a balanced, mutually beneficial, and forward-looking Free Trade Agreement is concluded soon, the statement read.

In August, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman indicated that India was close to a “final call” on signing the FTA with the UK. Talks have been ongoing since 2021 with 13 rounds of talks thus far. Bilateral trade between the two countries hit USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23.

“Prime Minister Modi invited PM Sunak for a bilateral visit at an early, mutually convenient date for a more detailed discussion. Prime Minister Sunak accepted the invitation and congratulated PM Modi for a successful G20 Summit,” the release added.

Earlier, Sunak said the UK and India are two nations with one ambition, an ambition rooted in shared values, the connection between people.

“Two nations, one ambition. An ambition rooted in our shared values, the connection between our people and – of course – our passion for cricket,” the UK PM tweeted.

Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Sunak on the sidelines of the G20 Summit being held in the national capital under India’s presidency.

The meeting between the two leaders was held at the Bharat Mandapam in Pragati Maidan, the venue of the Summit.

The UK Prime Minister’s office on Saturday tweeted: “PM @RishiSunak and PM @narendramodi met today at the #G20 summit. They discussed the close and growing ties between the UK and India and had a productive conversation on work towards delivering the UK-India FTA.”

Talks between the two leaders followed their meeting held on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima in May this year in which they had discussed the India-UK free trade agreement, innovation, and science along with ways to strengthen the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.

The two countries are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement, talks for which had begun in 2022. The 12th round of negotiations for the UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place from August 8 to 31 this year.

In August this year, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and the UK’s Secretary of State for Trade Kemi Badenoch took stock of the FTA and agreed on ways to make progress in the negotiations. The 13th round of negotiations is due to take place in September.

Earlier today, PM Modi and Rishi Sunak participated in Session 1 on ‘One Earth’ during the G20 Summit. Sunak said that the world is looking to G20 to provide leadership and that the leaders are meeting at a time of enormous challenges. He expressed confidence that the leaders will together be able to address the challenges.

In a post shared on X, Sunak stated, “15 years ago, #G20 leaders came together for the first time to restore global growth after the financial crisis. We meet at a time of enormous challenges – the world is looking to the G20 once again to provide leadership. Together I believe we can address these challenges.”

Earlier, PM Modi welcomed world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK PM Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and others as they arrived to attend the Summit at the Bharat Mandapam venue.

Rishi Sunak and PM Modi warmly greeted each other with Namaste and shook hands. The two leaders also hugged each other as they posed for cameras.

Sunak, accompanied by wife Akshata Murty had arrived in Delhi on Friday. This is Rishi Sunak’s first visit to India after he assumed the office of Prime Minister of the UK in October last year.

India and the UK are bound by strong ties of history and culture, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. India’s multifaceted bilateral relationship with the UK intensified with its upgradation to a Strategic Partnership in 2004. (ANI)

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