INDIA-UK FREE TRADE DEAL NOT GUARANTEED WHEN MODI & SUNAK MEET IN G20
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Rinson Chory/Unsplash
To the dismay of the drinks industry in the United Kingdom, it is highly likely that there will be no breakthrough on the long-awaited India-UK free trade agreement when the primer ministers of the two countries meet in the G20 summit opened in New Delhi today.
British media reported ahead of the G20 summit that UK PM Rishi Sunak has ruled out an early harvest trade deal with India with limited scope. He is reportedly aiming for a comprehensive agreement covering most aspects of the bi-lateral trade.
Recent reports indicated that India is willing to cut tariffs on Scotch whisky by one-third (from 150 to 100 percent) in exchange for tax incentives for Indian workers in the UK.
It was suggested that these agreements could have led to the signing of an early harvest trade deal amid the G20 summit.
However, it was said, UK PM Sunak and business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch have rejected this idea, fearing it would hinder the possibility of a more comprehensive free trade agreement.
Former UK PM Boris Johnson and his successor Liz Truss had promised a deal by last Diwali, which fell in October, and claimed that it is the biggest bonus to UK after Brexit.
But nearly a year has gone and the prospect of a comprehensive free trade agreement with India remains distant.
The two sides are reportedly at loggerheads in a number of areas, including the amount of work visas UK gives to India each year and protection of intellectual property in India, especially in the pharmaceutical industry.
The UK administration is said to have dumped the idea of putting a deadline to the negotiation process, and is convinced that no deal will be sealed before the general elections of both countries in next year.
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