India and the UK have affirmed their commitment to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with a view to further strengthen economic ties, the commerce ministry said on Saturday.
The issue was discussed in the 14th Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting between the two countries on Friday. It was co-chaired by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and UK secretary of state for international trade Elizabeth Truss.
They were assisted by minister of state for commerce and industry Hardeep Singh Puri and his UK counterpart Ranil Jayawardena.
Goyal and Truss ‚Äúaffirmed their shared commitment to an FTA and towards that, Early Harvest deals in a staged manner,‚ÄĚ the ministry said in a statement. It added that Puri and Jayawardena will have monthly meetings to intensify the dialogue.
It was also decided that a meeting led by Goyal and Truss will be held in Autumn 2020 here to carry forward the dialogue.
In an FTA, two trading partners eliminate or significantly reduce import duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them.
The statement also said that the co-chairs of business led Joint Working Groups on life science and health, ICT and food and drink set up during the last JETCO made their recommendations to the ministers.
‚ÄúBoth sides resolved to cooperate in the health sector especially in view of the present pandemic of COVID-19,‚ÄĚ it said.
The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $5.5 billion in 2019-20 as against $16.87 billion in 2018-19.