India, UK inch closer to FTA after first round of talks

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India and the UK inch closer to a Free Trade Agreement as both sides acknowledge the importance of ensuring this first round held virtually over two weeks could proceed despite the challenges presented by the Covid pandemic.

During the first round of talks, technical experts from both sides came together for discussions in 32 separate sessions covering 26 policy areas including trade in goods, trade in services including financial services and telecommunications, investment, intellectual property, customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, competition, gender, government procurement, SMEs, sustainability, transparency, trade and development, geographical indicators and digital.

The negotiations were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade between the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world. The positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the UK and India to make positive and efficient progress, according to the ministry of commerce and industry press release.

The second round of negotiations is due to take place on 7-18 March 2022. Both teams maintain a shared ambition to conclude negotiations by the end of 2022.

Earlier, the contours of the FTA was envisaged when Uk secretary of state for international trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan and union minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal met on 13 January 2022, in New Delhi for the 15th meeting of the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee.