UK launches talks with India over free-trade agreement

Commerce between the two countries could be worth £28bn a year by 2035

British Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan speaks to the media during the launch of free trade agreement negotiations between the UK and India in New Delhi. Reuters

The UK has launched negotiations with India over a multibillion-pound trade deal that it hopes will bring tariff-free access to the country's fast-growing middle class.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will meet the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, in New Delhi for an event on Thursday.

The UK Department for International Trade said it hoped the talks could result in a deal that could increase trade between the two countries to £28 billion ($38.38bn) a year by 2035, and boost wages across Britain by up to £3bn.

India has a £2 trillion economy and market of 1.4 billion consumers, including a growing middle class who favour British-made cars and Scotch whisky.

Removing these duties alone would increase exports to India by up to £6.8bn, supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the UK, the British department says.

Investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the UK.

Economic forecasts show that India is set to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2050, with a bigger population than the US and EU combined.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says a new deal would open India’s booming economy to Britain and "offer huge benefits for British businesses, workers and consumers".

“The UK has world-class businesses and expertise we can rightly be proud of, from Scotch whisky distillers to financial services and cutting-edge renewable technology," Mr Johnson said.

"We are seizing the opportunities offered in growing economies of the Indo-Pacific to cement our place on the global stage and deliver jobs and growth at home.”

Ms Trevelyan said: "We want to unlock this huge new market for our great British producers and manufacturers across numerous industries, from food and drink to services and automotive.

“As an independent, deal-making nation the UK is broadening our economic horizons and forging stronger partnerships with the fastest-growing economies of the world.

"India marks the start of our ambitious five-star year of UK trade and will show how the deals we negotiate will boost the economies across all nations and help level up all regions of the UK.”

Updated: January 13th 2022, 12:39 PM