India-UK FTA Talks: Jaishankar Optimistic about Mutual Agreement

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is on a five-day official visit to the United Kingdom to give “new impetus to the friendly ties”, Monday said India and Britain are currently focusing on a free trade agreement (FTA) and hoped that both the countries would find a “landing point” workable for both of them.

The Indian foreign minister said the Agenda 2030 put greater emphasis on connectivity, trade, and working together when it comes to defence and security, health and all climate change.

“We are focusing on what is officially called an enhanced trade partnership. In common sense, it’s called FTA (a free trade agreement) and that is today very much the focus of what the Indian and British systems are negotiating and where we hope that we will find a landing point which will work for both of us,” Jaishankar said.

Both countries have been negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) since January 2022 with a target to significantly enhance the estimated GBP 36-billion bilateral trading partnership.

The FTA talks have undergone 13 rounds of negotiations, and the officials are hopeful of clinching a deal ahead of general elections in both countries scheduled for 2024.

Jaishankar also talked about his meetings with newly-appointed Foreign Secretary David Cameron, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Home Secretary James Cleverly.

He said the foreign Secretary on the first day of his job met him and it was extremely satisfying for him the “commitment and support for the relationship”.

“We spent a lot of time talking about how to take it forward. I also, of course, met the Home Secretary, recently the foreign secretary and he has been a pillar of strength for the relationship in his previous job. In his current job, we continue to count on him. Again, taking this relationship to a higher level,” Jaishankar added.

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