India, UK pledge to fast track trade agreement talks
On Tuesday, India and United Kingdom promised to fast track dialogue on a free trade agreement, a development that would have a deep impact on the relationship between both countries. The countries are learned to have also agreed on important elements of a 10-year-long roadmap, meant to enhance ties. India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said trade ministers from both countries held talks.
UK PM will be R-Day's chief guest
Trade and investment will be one of the top agendas of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will be visiting India in January. Johnson accepted an invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. The last time a UK PM graced R-Day celebrations was in 1993, when John Major became a part of the event.
British PM is delighted to be visiting India
To note, Johnson will be visiting India for the first time since taking office last year. He said, "I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and I have pledged to achieve."
Turnover of Indian companies in UK is over £41.2 billion
Johnson's office also shed light on the relationship between both countries. "The UK and India are significant investors and markets for each other's economies and our growing trade and investment relationship is worth around £24 billion a year," his office said. The statement also revealed that 842 Indian companies in the UK have a combined turnover of £41.2 billion.
Separately, Jaishankar and Raab spoke on key issues
Yesterday, Jaishankar and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke for nearly four hours. According to them, enhanced cooperation is important in five areas namely — connecting people, trade, defense and security, climate change, and health. They also discussed other topics like Afghanistan's situation, developments in the Middle East, challenges posed by terrorism, and the evolution of the Indo-Pacific region. Indo-China standoff was also discussed, reports HT.
Both countries have huge expectations from 2021
"We agreed on key elements of a 10-year UK-India roadmap so that we can deliver a step change in ambition for the relationship between our two countries. We look forward to taking this forward in 2021," Raab said.
Both India and UK have reasons to push for trade
Obviously, both countries have their own reasons to push for a trade agreement. While India abandoned the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership due to China's access to markets, Britain is looking to forge new deals, now that it's poised to exit the EU. New Delhi is also warming up to UK and France, as it eyes a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.