UK and India sign £1bn trade deal to create 6,500 jobs

Dehli and London also agree to stronger links on health, climate and defence

The Serum Institute of India has committed to investments worth £240m. Reuters/file
The Serum Institute of India has committed to investments worth £240m. Reuters/file

India and Britain committed to a deeper relationship over the decade in an array of areas and separately announced a trade deal worth £1 billion ($1.38bn).

Prime Minister's Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi agreed to strengthen work on health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence.

The trade package raises hopes of a comprehensive deal between fast-developing India and post-Brexit Britain, with London aiming to double trade levels by 2030.

It could create thousands of jobs and pave the way for a tariff-busting free-trade agreement.

“The UK and India share many fundamental values. The UK is one of the oldest democracies and India is the world’s largest," said Mr Johnson.

"We are both committed members of the Commonwealth. And there is a living bridge uniting the people of our countries."

A planned British visit to Delhi was last month cancelled because of the country’s worsening coronavirus crisis.

“In the last week the British people have stepped up in their thousands to support our Indian friends during this terrible time in a demonstration of the deep connection between the UK and India," Mr Johnson said.

“This connection will only grow over the next decade as we do more together to tackle the world’s biggest problems and make life better for our people. The agreements we have made today mark the beginning of a new era in the UK-India relationship.”

UK Trade Minster Liz Truss said talks on a full free-trade deal would start in the autumn when she wants tariffs lowered on cars and whisky.

“The jobs are immediate investments and export contracts. The commitments to invest will happen over the next year,” she said.

“It is very different to a free-trade deal, which is about lowering tariff barriers and gaining agreements in digital and data. The jobs today are the tip of the iceberg.”

UK-India trade is worth about £23bn a year, the British government says. In 2019, 1.1 per cent of UK exports went to India and 2 per cent of Britain’s imports came from the subcontinent.

“This is going to be a win-win for both countries,” Ms Truss said. “There are currently very high tariffs on products like cars and whisky into India. We want to see those tariffs removed to benefit businesses in Britain.”

The deal includes more than £533 million in investment from India and could create 6,500 jobs in health and technology sectors.

“Like every aspect of the UK-India relationship, the economic links between our countries make our people stronger and safer,” Mr Johnson said.

“Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs we have announced 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 countries to new highs.”

Ms Truss said the UK was working with India to get medical supplies into the country, which is engulfed by a severe wave of Covid-19.

The deal includes £240m investment from the Serum Institute of India to support clinical trials, research and vaccine development.

Meanwhile, British businesses secured £446m of export deals with India, an agreement expected to create more than 400 British jobs.

Updated: May 4, 2021 06:21 PM

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