Majority of issues in India-UK FTA towards resolution, says Commerce Ministry

The majority of difficult matters in India-UK FTA negotiations are moving towards resolution and both sides are actively engaged for a fair and equitable deal, Commerce Ministry officials said on Friday.

Also read: Editorial. India should strike a hard bargain with UK on FTA 

India and the UK launched talks for an FTA in January 2022 to boost economic ties between the two nations.

There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said both sides are actively engaged in talks and both of them “want a fair, equitable deal”.

He was replying to media queries after the Ministry released trade data for February.

The 14th round of negotiations was held in January. Chapter-wise textual negotiations are near close and the schedule on goods and services is at an advanced state of negotiations, Commerce Ministry officials said.

Recently, a team from the UK visited India for negotiations on outstanding issues.

The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to $20.36 billion in 2022-23 from $17.5 billion in 2021-22.

On the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Oman, Secretary Barthwal said this is a one trade pact, which will be concluded very soon.

When asked whether coming into force of Model Code of Conduct with the announcement of General Elections on Saturday would impact the pace of negotiations or signing of a new FTA till the new government assumes office, the official said, there is no restraint on ongoing projects.

India’s 10 export destinations during April-February 2023-24 were UAE, Singapore, Netherlands, China, the UK, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Germany and Bangladesh.

The top import sources were Russia, Switzerland, China, South Korea, Singapore, Iraq, Indonesia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and the US.

On smartphone shipments, the Commerce Ministry data showed that the US is India’s top exporting destination with a share of 34.4 per cent from April-January 2023-24. The decline in the exports of smartphones to the US was also observed from the world along with China, Hongkong and Vietnam.

India’s overall exports (merchandise and services combined) in April-February 2023-24 were estimated to be $709.81 billion, exhibiting a growth of 0.83 per cent over April-February 2022-23.

Also read: Indian team of senior officials in London to push India-UK FTA talks

Overall imports in April-February 2023-24 were $782.05 billion, registering a contraction of 4.64 per cent over the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

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