India-UK conclude third round of FTA talks

  • The third round of talks were to focus on issues, including tariff concessions on alcoholic beverages, movement of professionals, among others
  • The two sides hope to sign the interim deal by October

Bengaluru/New Delhi: India and the UK concluded the third round of talks for the proposed free trade agreement in New Delhi on Friday covering ground on key areas. The two sides hope to sign the interim deal by October.
“Third round of India-UK FTA negotiations concluded in Delhi with two weeks of intense discussions, teams working extra hours to make good progress in policy areas resolving to continue positive conversations,” India’s chief negotiator Nidhi Mani Tripathi tweeted on Sunday.
The third round of talks were to focus on issues, including tariff concessions on alcoholic beverages, movement of professionals, among other things.
India and the UK had covered significant ground in the last two rounds with the UK agreeing to eliminate duty on rice and textile goods, while India is likely to allow duty-free entry of British apples, UK-manufactured medical devices, and machinery.
The interim or the early harvest agreement pact aims to cover 65% of goods and up to 40% of services, with the coverage in goods expected to go up to 90% in the full agreement.
The agreement is estimated to double India-UK bilateral trade to about $100 billion by 2030.
An agreement is also expected on mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, another person aware of the development said.
During the two rounds of the trade negotiations that began in January this year, India and the UK have managed to close four out of 26 chapters in the FTA.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his India visit three weeks ago expressed his support for more skilled visas for Indians stating that the UK is currently facing a shortage of experts in IT and programming sectors.
The India-UK FTA deal is also expected to give a boost to the domestic textile sectors. Exporters told Mint that the UK is among the most important markets for them among all other markets where India has got duty free access such as UAE, and Australia.
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