London, Jan 9 (PTI) Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan will launch free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations during a visit to New Delhi starting on Wednesday, the UK government said on Sunday.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) said the schedule for the two-day visit to India will include bilateral talks between Trevelyan and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday, when they are expected to discuss a range of issues including green trade and the removal of market access barriers for both UK and Indian businesses.
Both ministers are then expected to confirm the launch of official negotiations on a new UK-India FTA.
"The UK and India are already close friends and trading partners, and building on that strong relationship is a priority for 2022,” said Trevelyan.
"I will be using my visit to drive forward an ambitious trade agenda which represents the UK's Indo-Pacific tilt in action and shows how we are seizing global opportunities as an independent trading nation," she said.
"This is just the start of a five-star year of UK trade, forging closer economic partnerships around the globe and negotiating deals that work for businesses, families and consumers in every part of the UK,” she added.
On Thursday, the UK minister will join Goyal to co-host the 15th UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) to review how businesses in both countries are benefiting from existing market access commitments under the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership agreed last May by Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi.
The DIT said the UK Trade Secretary is expected to meet several Cabinet ministers to discuss closer bilateral cooperation, including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.
"This highlights the ongoing wider strategic importance of the UK-India bilateral relationship which extends beyond trade,” the DIT said.
On Wednesday, Trevelyan will meet staff at the New Delhi site of British manufacturing firm JCB to talk about how manufacturing and engineering firms could hugely benefit from the UK-India trade deal. The company are dubbed a UK “export success story”, having been in India for over 40 years and employing over 5,000 people in country.
Later that day, the UK minister will also attend a Defence Industry roundtable hosted alongside Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar to promote future UK-India defence collaboration and strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
According to latest DIT figures, total trade in goods and services between the UK and India was GBP 23.3 billion in 2019, making India the UK’s 15th largest trading partner. Indian investment in the UK supports 95,000 jobs across the country, with 15,000 new jobs created by Indian investment in the last three years.
A trade deal could help increase this further and will play a key role in our ambition to double trade with India by 2030, the UK government said.
It added: “India is one of the world’s biggest and fastest growing economies and a bold new deal would put UK businesses at the front of the queue to export to India’s growing middle class of a quarter of a billion consumers.
"India is set to become the world’s third biggest economy by 2050, with a bigger population than the US and EU combined."