UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will travel to India late October to sign the ambitious agreement that is expected to spur two-way trade in goods and services between the two economies as well as increase capital flows in the form of foreign direct investment.
Sunak while being here for the G20 Leaders’ Summit had said he and prime minister Narendra Modi were keen to see a “comprehensive and ambitious trade deal” concluded, but said that there was “still some hard work to be done,” and that, the pact must “work for both the countries.”
However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) will be signed later as common ground has not been reached so far, he added. Till a BIT is signed, the India-UK Infrastructure Financing Bridge will address any bilateral issues in investments, the official added.
BIT, the Rules of Origin and intellectual property rights (the latter two under the FTA) were some of the issues that were proving to be contentious in the negotiations. From the Indian side, the demand for easier visas for professionals was seeing some resistance from the UK.
In traditional export sectors like textiles, leather UK has agreed to India’s demand for bringing down duties to zero.
India’s merchandise exports to the UK increased 9.03% on year in FY23 to touch $ 11.4 billion while imports rose 27% to $8.9 billion.
FDI from the UK stood at $1.7 billion in FY23 as against $1.6 billion in the previous year.
India’s main exports to the UK are ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment, spices, machinery and instruments, pharmaceuticals and marine products.