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6th Round Of Talks Concluded On December 16; 7th Round In Early 2023

India-UK FTA Talks: India and the UK concluded the sixth round of talks for a free-trade agreement (FTA) on December 16. Discussions in the sixth round, which began on December 12, were held across 11 policy areas over 28 separate sessions. Seventh round of official-level negotiations for the trade deal is due to take place in early 2023, said the UK’s Department for International Trade on Thursday.

This was the first round of negotiations after Rishi Sunak took over as the UK’s prime minister in October. The fifth round of talks was concluded in July.

“On December 16, 2022, the United Kingdom and the Republic of India concluded the sixth round of talks for a UK-India FTA. As with previous rounds, this was conducted in a hybrid fashion — a number of UK officials travelled to New Delhi for negotiations and others attended virtually,” the UK’s Department for International Trade said in a statement.

It added that technical discussions were held across 11 policy areas over 28 separate sessions. They included detailed draft treaty text discussions in these policy areas.

“The seventh round of official-level negotiations is due to take place in early 2023,” the UK’s Department for International Trade added.

Trade in goods, including passenger vehicles, is one of the areas under the India-UK FTA negotiations, which started on January 13, 2022.

In a free-trade agreement, two countries either significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them. The UK side is demanding duty concessions in the automobile sector.

UK Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch visited India on December 12-13 to initiate the sixth round of the UK-India FTA negotiations. She met with Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal where they welcomed the newest round of talks and discussed wider trade and investment opportunities for the UK and India.

The UK is the sixth-largest source of FDI for India, with inflows of $32 billion between April 2000 and June 2022. The UK is also the seventh-largest export destination for India. The trade between the two countries has seen a significant jump in the past decade, with the bilateral trade rising 22.7 per cent to $13.1 billion between FY21 and FY10.

In 2021-22, the bilateral trade in goods between India and the UK got a boost when it rose to $16 billion in 2021-22 as compared with $13.1 billion in 2020-21, a jump of 22.17 per cent. In the current financial year 2022-23 so far, the India-UK bilateral trade stood at $8.85 billion, which is around 40 per cent higher year-on-year as compared with $6.28 billion in the year-ago corresponding period, according to official data.

India’s main exports to the UK included ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum products, transport equipment, spices, pharmaceuticals, and marine products. However, the main imports from the UK included precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, chemicals and machinery. Both India and UK aim to reach bilateral trade amounting to $100 billion by 2030.

Experts said the FTA between India and the UK is expected to create employment opportunities, growth, and other opportunities for both countries. It is also expected to give a major boost to Indian exports in labour-intensive sectors, including leather, textile, jewellery, and processed agro products, among others.

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