India & UK: PMs Announce Enhanced Trade Partnership, FTA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson announced a historic enhanced trade partnership that will pave the way for market access for enterprises, an early harvest trade deal followed by the UK-India Free Trade Agreement.

The enhanced trade partnership aimed at creating jobs will lead to early harvest trade deal in the first half of 2022. The trade between India-UK in 2019-20 was $15.4 billion. Though steadily rising in recent years, the figure does not reflect the potential for trade between the world’s 5th and 6th largest economies. To seize the opportunities provided by Brexit, the two leaders announced their intent to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA including consideration of an interim trade agreement for delivering early gains. The ambition is to more than double the bilateral trade by 2030.

As part of the confidence-building measures, they have also agreed on an early market access package. The UK will open up the fisheries sector for more Indian players, facilitate more opportunities for nurses, recognise Indian seafarers certificates and also enter into a joint dialogue on the social security agreement. In return, India has agreed to allow fruit and medical devices and mutual recognition of masters degrees and also work towards reciprocal opening of legal services. The actions are likely to generate 20-25,000 new direct and indirect jobs in India.

The virtual summit marked by cordiality and spontaneity witnessed the conclusion of nine declarations and MoUs including one on India-UK migration and mobility partnership that will be implemented from 2022. This MoU creates a new scheme for exchange of young professionals under which every year up to 3,000 young Indian professionals can avail employment opportunities in the UK for two years without being subject to labour market test.

The other key MoU on India-UK Global Innovation Partnership will support the transfer of inclusive, climate smart innovations from India to selected developing countries. Two other key MoUs agreed at the summit were cooperation in the field of telecommunications/ICT and agreement on customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters.

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