India and UK to start fifth round of FTA talks in July

NEW DELHI : India and the UK have concluded the fourth round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations closing 11 out of 26 chapters, a Commerce Ministry official said on Monday, adding that the two countries will begin the fifth cycle next month.

Trade negotiations with the UK are of particular importance for domestic textile sectors, as duty-free textile exports would put India’s textile industry on par with major textile exporters such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Government officials have said the India-UK trade negotiations on the FTA which started in January this year will for the first time cover issues ranging from gender, labor and the environment and not customs duties on goods.

“For this round of negotiations, the detailed draft text of the treaty has been advanced in the majority of chapters. Technical experts from both sides came together for discussions in 71 separate sessions covering 20 policy areas,” the joint statement released by the British High Commission read.

The commission added that negotiating officials had undertaken these technical talks in a hybrid fashion – with some of the teams meeting in London and most officials joining virtually.

It is estimated that the agreement will double Indo-British bilateral trade to around $100 billion by 2030. In addition, the pact aims to cover 65% of goods and up to 40% of services, with goods coverage ahead of reach 90% in the entire agreement.

Mint had reported that India and the UK have come a long way in the last two rounds, with the UK agreeing to eliminate tariffs on rice and textiles, while India is likely to to allow duty-free entry of UK apples and UK-made medical products. devices and machines.

India recorded a trade surplus of $3.3 billion with the UK in 2020-21. The UK is India’s seventh-largest export market, accounting for 2.8% of its total exports, as of June 2021.

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