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India, UK note 'good progress' on 2030 Roadmap, reaffirm FTA commitment

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra met Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Friday, where they discussed raising the level of bilateral cooperation. The FTA talks between India and the UK began in 2022, containing 26 chapters.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee London Updated on: May 18, 2024 10:36 IST
India, United Kingdom, Vinay Kwatra, FTA
Image Source : INDIA IN THE UK (X) Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra with his British counterpart Sir Philip Barton.

London: Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, who was on an official two-day to the United Kingdom, took part in the annual India-UK Strategic Dialogue with his counterpart, Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), where they discussed the "good progress" made in the 2030 Roadmap between the two countries.

In his discussions with Sir Barton, Kwatra discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and global issues of mutual interest. Both sides underscored their interest in raising the level of ambition and agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation including in trade and economic, defence and security, science and technology, people-to-people ties and mobility, energy, and climate change, as well as health.

After their meeting, the FCDO said the two leaders reviewed the progress made on the UK-India 2030 Roadmap since the last strategic dialogue in January last year and looked ahead to the next phase of bilateral cooperation. “The two reflected on good progress on the 2030 Roadmap since the last review, noting key areas where the UK and India have worked together to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges,” the FCDO said in a statement.

India-UK FTA talks

The UK FCDO also complimented India's successful G20 presidency and increased opportunities for students and entrepreneurs under the Migration and Mobility Partnership. "Alongside celebrating the milestones since the last review, this year’s dialogue included the ongoing commitment to negotiate a mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA) and enhance defence cooperation,” it added.

It is worth mentioning that the FTA talks began in January 2022 year with Diwali 2022 set as the initial deadline by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Under the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak-led Tory government, no new timelines have been set but both sides are keen to get things signed off before a general election year in India and the UK in 2024.

India and the UK have held 13 rounds of talks on the FTA. The 14th round started in January, where they were looking at sealing it by bridging differences on certain contentious issues including mobility of people and import duty concessions on certain items. There are 26 chapters in the agreement, including goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.

“We are delighted to host Indian Foreign Secretary Kwatra in London to underline the UK’s commitment to deepening cooperation with India," said Lord Tariq Ahmad, FCDO Minister for South Asia, after his meeting with the Foreign Secretary, which his office said covered the FTA, migration and the Commonwealth.

In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sunak held a telephonic conversation where they affirmed the early conclusion of a mutually beneficial FTA. The deal has been in a lingering state as the UK wants New Delhi to slash tariffs on British cars, and scotch whisky while India seeks some relaxation in visas for Indian professionals and market access for several goods.  

The India-UK Roadmap 2030

Earlier, the High Commission of India in London said Kwatra also had a “fruitful meeting” with UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge, among other officials, during which they discussed ongoing India-UK defence capability cooperation initiatives and avenues for future collaboration. 

In 2021, India and the UK agreed to ambitious plans for the next decade of the bilateral relationship with the '2030 Roadmap' that includes commitments to deepen cooperation on health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence. PM Modi and ex-UK PM Johnson agreed to enhance India-UK defence partnership with a particular focus on maritime and industrial collaboration.

The two countries will work together to ensure an ambitious outcome at COP26 and expand the UK-India partnership on tackling climate change, including by accelerating the development of clean energy and transport and new technology, protecting nature and biodiversity and helping developing countries adapt to the impact of climate change.

(with inputs from agencies)

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