India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to gain momentum with Boris Johnson’s upcoming India visit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is most likely to visit India next week for a wide range schedule in Delhi and the agenda of his visit is likely to focus on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and UK. His visit, though still not officially announced and the third one since the talks began, will mark the completion of 4 of the 26 proposed negotiation chapters around the FTA. According to highly placed government officials, there has been ‘significant progress’ on the remaining 22 chapters as well. Johnson and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi are also likely to discuss the timeline for completion of the process, anticipated to be around the end of this year.

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The focal point of Johnson’s India visit is expected to be on April 21 and 22, when bilateral discussions and interactions with Indian business leaders are on the cards. A joint statement, being worked on by both sides, is likely to cover agreements across a variety of sectors, including defence and security and education.

The visit will also entail discussions around the Ukraine-Russia war, situation in Afghanistan and UK’s tilt towards Indo-Pacific. PM Modi and Johnson last met in person on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November last year, when their talks during the World Leaders’ Summit focussed on the India-UK climate partnership as well as a review of the 2030 Roadmap the pair had signed during a virtual summit in May 2021. The 2030 Roadmap aims at doubling the bilateral trade between India and UK by 2030.

Johnson is most likely to meet Modi in Gujarat on 21st April and it is also speculated that the British government is working towards a speedy conclusion of the FTA with India. The FTA is expected to close agreements on matters related to defence, education and leveraging the Make In India initiative. UK has been keen on forging new trade pacts with leading economies since its exit from the European Union.

India also signed a Free Trade Agreement with Australia recently on 2nd April in a virtual ceremony. The agreement was in talks since a decade and was finally signed in light of Australia’s trade tensions with China and an impending Australian election season in May. The Agreement is aimed at achieving a trade target of USD 100 billion between both countries by 2030.

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