PM Modi congratulates UK counterpart Rishi Sunak, discusses trade deal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Rishi Sunak, the newly-appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), in first phone call on Thursday evening. The leaders discussed the importance of closing a balanced free-trade deal soon between both countries. Meanwhile, UK's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrived in India on Friday. He is set to meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to discuss strengthening diplomatic ties.
Why does this story matter?
- India and the UK have planned to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2030.
- Both countries are about to sign a trade agreement as the UK is facing an economic crisis and apparent political instability with Indian-origin Sunak being the third PM the country saw this year.
- The sixth and final round of negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is underway.
Will work to strengthen Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: PM Modi
Glad to speak to @RishiSunak today. Congratulated him on assuming charge as UK PM. We will work together to further strengthen our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We also agreed on the importance of early conclusion of a comprehensive and balanced FTA.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 27, 2022
What two 'great democracies' can achieve: Sunak
Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your kind words as I get started in my new role.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 27, 2022
The UK and India share so much. I'm excited about what our two great democracies can achieve as we deepen our security, defence and economic partnership in the months years ahead. pic.twitter.com/Ly60ezbDPg
UK 6th largest FDI source for India
The trade deal was earlier set to be signed by Diwali, however, it couldn't materialize amid the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and economic tumult. The UK is India's sixth-largest foreign direct investment (FDI) source, with an influx of around $32 billion over the last two decades. It is also the seventh-largest export destination for our country.
Started in 2021 under BoJo
Under the FTA, both countries will be able to trade with reduced or eliminated custom tariff and non-tariff barriers above a significant amount of trade. The FTA could include intellectual property rights and investments apart from goods and services. The "partnership" was announced in May 2021 when Boris Johnson was in power in the UK and kicked off the first round of negotiations.
Suella Braverman in favor of FTA
Displaying a change of stance, the UK's Home Secretary Suella Braverman — an Indian-origin hardline Brexiteer known for her anti-immigration policy — has come out in support of the trade deal. This comes after she expressed apprehensions over the deal earlier, fearing it would increase migration to the UK, where Indians are already said to be the largest group of "visa overstayers."