Piyush Goyal, Minister of Trade and Industry. To file. | Photo credit: Kamal Narang
Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is due to visit the UK on July 10-11 to take stock of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) aimed at promoting economic ties between both countries, an official statement said on July 9.
The Minister’s visit will focus on the ongoing FTA negotiations between India and the UK, in addition to discussing progress on a trade pact with ministers from member countries of the European Free Trade Association. exchange (EFTA), said the Ministry of Commerce.
The visit comes at a crucial time, as India and the UK are committed to expanding their economic ties and exploring avenues to boost bilateral trade.
“As the FTA negotiations gain momentum, the visit aims to advance discussions and pave the way for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement that would boost economic growth and strengthen ties between the two nations,” did he declare.
During the visit, the Minister will participate in high-level meetings with his British counterparts, including the Secretary of State for International Trade, as well as with representatives from various sectors and industries.
“These meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss the main priorities and objectives of the FTA negotiations, with a focus on tackling trade barriers, promoting investment and fostering greater cooperation in areas such as technology, innovation and intellectual property rights,” he said. .
He will also meet ministers and officials from EFTA member countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to assess progress in the ongoing negotiations of the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA).
The TEPA aims to enhance trade and economic cooperation between India and EFTA member countries, fostering an enabling environment for increased investment, reduced trade barriers and improved market access.
Negotiations for a trade deal between India and the UK were launched on January 13, 2021.
No less than ten rounds of talks have been completed till June this year and both sides aim to conclude the negotiations at the earliest.
Negotiations between the two countries for the agreement cover up to 26 policy areas/chapters. The investment is being negotiated under a separate agreement (bilateral investment treaty) between India and the UK and it would be concluded at the same time as the free trade agreement.
Bilateral trade between the countries increased to $20.36 billion in 2022-23 from $17.5 billion in 2021-22.
India’s main exports to the UK are garments and ready-made textiles, gemstones and jewellery, engineered goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment, spices, machinery and instruments , pharmaceuticals and marine products.
Major imports include precious and semi-precious stones, metal ores and scrap, engineering goods, professional instruments other than electronics, chemicals and machinery.
In the services sector, the UK is Europe’s largest market for Indian IT services.
In the area of investment, the UK is one of the leading investors in India. In 2022-23, India received $1.74 billion in foreign direct investment from Britain compared to $1 billion in 2021-22. In April 2000 and March 2023, investments amounted to $33.9 billion.
On April 26 here, India and EFTA discussed ways to resume negotiations of the agreement.
Under such pacts, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate tariffs on the maximum number of goods traded between them, in addition to easing standards to promote trade in services and investment.
EFTA countries are not part of the European Union (EU).
EFTA is an intergovernmental organization for the promotion and intensification of free trade. It was founded as an alternative for states that did not wish to join the European Community.
India’s exports to EFTA countries in April-February 2022-23 amounted to $1.67 billion compared to $1.74 billion in 2021-22. Imports totaled $15 billion during the 11-month period, compared to $25.5 billion in 2021-22. The trade deficit is in favor of the EFTA group.