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'Not quite enough yet to secure a deal': UK Foreign Secretary on Free Trade Agreement with India I VIDEO

UK Foreign Secretary, while responding to a question in the House of Lords on BBC restructuring its India operations and UK-India trade deal, underscored the significance of the ongoing trade deal, however, he stressed that India needs to do more to finalise the pact.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 London Updated on: April 18, 2024 15:06 IST
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron
Image Source : AP UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron

London: UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, on Wednesday, asserted that both India and the UK offered good market access to each other, but added New Delhi "did not offer enough to secure a deal". Cameron, while responding to a question in the House of Lords on BBC restructuring its India operations and UK-India trade deal, underscored the significance of the ongoing trade deal, however, he stressed that India needs to do more to finalise the pact.

"Regarding trade deals, good market access has been offered on both sides (India-UK), but not quite enough yet to secure a deal," he told the UK Parliament.

India-UK Free Trade Agreement

It is worth mentioning the discussion on the Free Trade Agreement, or FTA, began in January 2022 year. Initially,  Diwali 2022 was marked as the deadline by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson to finalise the deal.

But, after his successor, Rishi Sunak, chaired the position, no new timelines have been set until now, despite the minister meeting with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit in New Delhi last year.  Until December last year, finalised over 20 out of 26 chapters. Still, both sides are looking at sealing the agreement by bridging differences on certain contentious issues including mobility of people and import duty concessions on certain items. 

According to reports, the deal has been lingering 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. 

Earlier last month, when both leaders had a telephone conversation, the duo vowed to fasten the process. However, people familiar with the matter said a final decision is unlikely before a general election year in India and the UK in 2024.

Cameron on BBC restructuring in India 

Meanwhile, replying to BBC restructuring its India operations, Cameron praised the Indian democracy but seems "not happy" with the digital law passed under the Modi-led government.  

"The Indian Democracy is rumbustious in nature. India should be proud of being the biggest democracy in the world. The point made about the BBC is important; India passed a law recently insisting that the digital media companies operating there have to be Indian owned," said Cameron.

"BBC had to restructure on that basis. I think that’s not the British way of insisting that all media has to be domestically owned. Nonetheless, that is the reason why BBC has restructured, with some agreements made with India," he added.

Notably, the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act is a new law in India that balances the rights of individuals to protect their personal data with the need to process such data for lawful purposes. The law was passed in August 2023 and is the first cross-sectoral law on personal data protection in India. It sets out the rights and duties of users, and the obligations on businesses. 

Also Read: PM Modi, Sunak hold 'good conversation' over phone, hope early decision on India-UK free trade agreement

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