January 22nd, London
A free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK is due to be signed this year, but it will not facilitate the provision of free movement visas to Indians, the UK trade minister in charge of negotiations said.
Kemi Badenok traveled to New Delhi last month to kick off the sixth round of FTA negotiations with Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.
In a recent interview with The Times, the UK trade minister also ruled out key similarities between India and the FTA the UK signed with Australia (one of the first post-Brexit trade deals).
“We left the EU[European Union]because we didn’t believe in free movement. It’s not an agreement that we have,” Badenoch told the newspaper. Reference to more visa offers.
The minister has indicated he is willing to make concessions on issues such as business mobility, but has ruled out the possibility of Indians entering into the same kind of deal with Australia, where anyone under the age of 35 can stay in the UK for three years. You can live and work.
The mutual UK-India Young Professionals Scheme, officially launched earlier this month, will provide 3,000 graduates between the ages of 18 and 30 with visas each year to live and work in either country for up to two years. It is seen that this hurdle has been overcome.
“We have to make sure that each trade agreement we sign is tailored to a specific country. India has many times the population,” Badenok said.
“And what people in the UK want to do when they travel to Australia is probably a little different than what they do when they travel to India,” she told The Times.
Badenok called out the previous Tory government’s approach to time-bound FTA negotiations from “useless” and echoed Rishi Sunak, who will lead the government’s more flexible approach going forward.
“The mantra ‘Trade on Diwali’ is one of the things I’ve changed since becoming Secretary of Commerce. I tell people it’s about trading, not the day. Everything needs to be done. Having a fixed date allows the negotiations to take less time for the other party,” she said.
Prime Minister Johnson set the FTA’s Diwali 2022 deadline during his visit to India last April. However, amidst the great political turmoil in the UK, that deadline passed prematurely, and most ministers have since been reluctant to set a new timeframe.
“I think we’ll have a deal sometime this year. I don’t know when it will be. But if things don’t settle after a while, people move on either side. I’m signing the deal this year. I am very eager to do so,” he said. Badenoch.
According to official UK government data, bilateral trade between India and the UK now amounts to around £29.6 billion annually. The two sides formally launched his FTA negotiations early last year, and after the deadline for Diwali in October 2022, Sunak said he would move forward with his FTA without “sacrificing quality for speed.” I promised to work “at my pace.”