NEW DELHI: Trade and investment with UK pushing India for a free trade agreement – with Indo-Pacific, defense and security and cooperation for early recovery from Covid-19 – dominated Tuesday’s meeting between British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab and his counterpart S Jaishankar.
Raab, only second foreign minister to visit India since pandemic onset after US counterpart Mike Pompeo, also confirmed in a joint press conference the British Prime Minister Boris Johnsonparticipation as the main guest in next year’s Republic Day celebrations. Describing India’s invitation as a great honor, Jaishankar said the development symbolizes a new era in India-UK ties. The UK has also invited Modi to join the G7 summit hosted by the UK next year.
Both countries have agreed on a 10-year, 360-degree roadmap for modernizing the India-UK partnership to the next level, with Raab listing the enhanced trade partnership and a future free trade agreement as a top priority next year.
“I think this could unlock huge opportunities for British and Indian businesses, reducing barriers in areas such as food and beverage, healthcare and life sciences, IT, data, chemicals and financial services. I think there are some interesting possibilities ahead. said Raab. The United Kingdom wanted to strengthen trade ties with India to compensate for the damage caused by its exit from the EU.
When asked how serious India is about the free trade agreement with Britain, given that it has left the Asia-Pacific RCEP, Jaishankar said there is a serious intention to continue trade relations with Britain. . He added that this was like comparing apples to oranges, as there was no question of India taking its experiences and decisions with RCEP to negotiations with the UK.
India said in a statement that, in order to realize the full potential of bilateral economic and trade relations, both sides acknowledged the importance of following up on trade agreement talks quickly and concluding a “global migration and mobility partnership agreement” which it can facilitate a faster movement of students and professionals in both directions.
Jaishankar said the talks focused on 5. Broad topics – connecting people, trade and prosperity, defense and security, climate and health. “The situation in Afghanistan, the evolution of the Indo-Pacific and the developments in the Middle East have been among the topics that have emerged. The challenges posed by terrorism and radicalism have been a common concern,” he said.
Jaishankar was also accompanied by the main meeting coordinating the response to the Covid vaccine in India. Raab said the proudest example of the India-UK partnership was on Covid-19 today.
“Oxford University, AstraZeneca and Serum Institute India worked closely together. And the Institute now plans to produce one billion doses of Oxford vaccine by the end of next year, many of which will go to low- and middle-income countries, “he said.
Raab also listed the commitment to build a stronger defense and security partnership with India and cooperation on climate change as two other priorities in the 10-year UK-India roadmap.
While India pushed Britain to come up with its own Indo-Pacific policy, the British High Commission said in a statement that Raab’s visit marked the UK’s last step in building closer relations with “countries with similar views. ”From the Indo-Pacific region, India being a key strategic partner. Raab also reaffirmed that HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group will visit the Indo-Pacific region next year.