The sixth round of negotiations between India and the UK to finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) concluded last week with detailed draft treaty discussions across 11 policy areas over 28 separate sessions, the British government said on Thursday.
The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) issued a joint outcome statement to confirm that the latest round, initiated by UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on December 12, concluded last Friday. The seventh round of talks, expected to be held in the UK, is “due to take place in early 2023”.
“Technical discussions were held across 11 policy areas over 28 separate sessions. They included detailed draft treaty text discussions in these policy areas,” the DIT statement reads.
As with the previous five official-level rounds, the DIT said the latest round was conducted in a hybrid fashion during which a number of UK officials travelled to New Delhi for negotiations and others attended virtually.
The joint outcome statement reads: “On 12-13 December, the Secretary of State for International Trade, Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP, visited India to initiate the sixth round of the UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations. She met with Piyush Goyal, Honourable Minister for Commerce and Industry, Government of India, where they welcomed the newest round of talks and discussed wider trade and investment opportunities for the UK and India.
“On 16 December 2022, the United Kingdom and the Republic of India concluded the sixth round of talks for a UK-India FTA.”
According to official UK government data, India-UK bilateral trade currently stands at around £29.6 billion a year. Both sides formally launched FTA negotiations at the start of this year with former prime minister Boris Johnson announcing a Diwali deadline for its conclusion. However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak committed to working “at pace” towards an FTA that does not “sacrifice quality for speed” after that October deadline was missed amid political turmoil in the UK.
The UK government has said its target for the FTA is to achieve a deal to cut tariffs and open opportunities for UK services such as financial and legal, making it easier for British businesses to sell to the Indian economy.