U.K.-India declare a shared intent to begin work towards a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Britain has finalised £1 billion worth of new trade and investment with India, creating over 6,500 jobs in the UK, to be signed off at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
The investments confirmed by Downing Street on Monday evening form part of an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP), which will set the ambition to double the value of UK-India trade by 2030 and declare a shared intent to begin work towards a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“Like every aspect of the UK-India relationship, the economic links between our countries make our people stronger and safer,” Johnson said.
“Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs we have announced today will help families and communities build back from coronavirus and boost the British and Indian economies. In the decade ahead, with the help of [the] new Partnership signed today and a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, we will double the value of our trading partnership with India and take the relationship between our two countries to new highs,” he said.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) President and British Indian entrepreneur Lord Karan Bilimoria said the Enhanced Trade Partnership will usher in a new era of UK-India relations.
“It shows the world the strength of our relationship,” Mr. Bilimoria said.
“Paving the way for a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement and setting the ambition of more than doubling bilateral trade from the current level of GBP 23 billion by 2030. As leaders in tech and innovation, this enhanced partnership will unlock opportunities for businesses, boost job creation and growth across the country,” he said.
The trade and investment package unveiled by Britain contains over £533 million of new Indian investment into the UK, covering areas such as healthcare and technology. This includes a £240 million investment by the Serum Institute of India in the U.K. into its vaccine business and a new sales office in the country, expected to generate new business worth over $1 billion.
Serum’s investment will support clinical trials, research & development and “possibly” manufacturing of vaccines, to help the UK and the world defeat the coronavirus pandemic and other deadly diseases, Downing Street said. British businesses have also secured new export deals with India worth more than 446 million pounds, which is expected to create more than 400 British jobs. This includes CMR Surgical exporting its next-generation “Versius” surgical robotic system, which helps surgeons perform minimal access surgery being rolled out to hospitals in India. This export deal is worth 200 million pounds and will result in the creation of 100 new jobs in the UK.
“With almost 1.4 billion people, India’s population is bigger than the EU and US combined and by far the largest market the UK has committed to negotiating a trade deal with to date,” Downing Street said.
The ETP agreed between India and the UK is said to create immediate opportunities for British businesses in India across industries including food and drink, life sciences and the service sector. Non-tariff barriers on fruit and medical devices will be lowered, allowing British businesses to export more of their products to India and boosting UK growth and jobs. It also commits both sides to addressing immediate market access barriers as well as continuing to seek further opportunities on the road to an FTA.
“A future UK-India trade deal will support hundreds of thousands of jobs and boost the economies of both the UK and India by potentially lowering or removing current tariffs such as those of up to 150 per cent on whisky and up to 125 per cent on automotives as well as on other British products. It would also create huge benefits for British services – four out five of India’s fastest growing imports are for services like IP and telecommunications,” Downing Street said.
The trade barriers addressed by the ETP include lifting restrictions to enable fruit producers across the UK to export British apples, pears and quince to India for the first time and improved access for medical devices through the acceptance of UK Certificates of Free Sale in India, removing the requirement for additional accreditation of UK medical devices when exporting to the Indian market before they can be sold.
There is also a commitment to deepening cooperation in educational services and concluding work on the recognition of UK higher education qualifications, which will encourage an increase in student flows, skills transfer and knowledge sharing between the U.K. and India.
It has also been agreed by both sides to work on removing barriers in the Indian legal services sector preventing UK lawyers from practising international and foreign law in India, a step that Downing Street could “significantly increase” U.K. legal services exports and UK legal services imports from India.
According to official statistics, trade between the U.K. and India is already worth around £23 billion a year, supporting more than half a million jobs. Last week, Johnson spoke to Indian business leaders from companies Infosys and HCL and the software majors are among the Indian companies listed as part of a series of investment deals, set to create 1,000 jobs each in the UK. Some of the others on the list include the likes of biotech firm Global Gene Corp, TVS Motors and Goila Butter Chicken.