Kemi Badenoch travels to India to discuss UK trade deal

Talks will focus on agreement to cut tariffs and open opportunities for UK financial and legal services

British International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch. PA
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British International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has travelled to India for a round of talks as the UK seeks to revive hopes of a free-trade deal.

After an initial target of securing a deal with India by Diwali in October slipped past, the UK government is still negotiating.

This will be the first formal round of talks since July and is expected to focus on a deal to cut tariffs and open opportunities for UK financial and legal services.

Ms Badenoch, who told MPs last month that she did not want her ministry to be seen as the “department for free-trade agreements”, has flown to New Delhi for the sixth round of talk.

There she will meet Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal in person for the first time.

The visit will also include meetings with business leaders and UK companies.

“Both nations have come to the table with the very highest of ambitions and a willingness to work together towards a mutually beneficial deal," Ms Badenoch said.

"I’m excited about the opportunities we can create for British business.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and India leader Narendra Modi met on November 16 in Nusa Dua, Bali. Reuters

Previous post-Brexit free-trade agreements have come under scrutiny after former environment secretary George Eustice claimed the Australian agreement “was not actually a very good deal” and that the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return”.

Mr Eustice also criticised the approach adopted by then-trade secretary Liz Truss in pursuing the deals, prompting Mr Sunak to promise not to “sacrifice quality for speed when it comes to trade deals”.

Mr Sunak met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in Bali in November, where the pair discussed hopes for a free-trade deal.

The visit by Ms Badenoch comes as Pret A Manger, Revolut and FinTech company Tide plan to expand into India.

Updated: December 11, 2022, 10:40 PM