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NEW DELHI : The uncertain political situation in the UK will not impact negotiations with India for a free trade agreement (FTA), commerce secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam said, adding he expects the talks to conclude by 31 August.

This comes amid speculation that negotiations could get delayed after Boris Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister earlier this month. Johnson is expected to be replaced on 5 Sept by either former finance minister Rishi Sunak or foreign minister Liz Truss. “There is going to be a change in PM in the UK, the government will be the same, the (Conservative) party continues to be in office and irrespective of the party in power in the UK, the logic of FTA with India is irreversible," he said.

“The negotiations are on track and we will complete the negotiations by 31 August. The fifth round of negotiations is going on and this will be the last round. We have completed 10 chapters and by the end of this round, we would have completed 17-18 chapters out of the 26 chapters. All the other chapters are related to goods and services and are linked to the chapters already agreed."

The commerce secretary said India and the UK have signed an MoU on education which provides for mutual recognition of educational qualifications and duration of study undertaken by students within approved and recognized higher education institutions in the two countries. However, professional degrees are not part of the MoU. Alongside, the commerce and industry ministry said an MoU on maritime education qualification will pave the way for the two countries to recognize certificates of maritime education and training, competency and endorsements of seafarers issued by each other. “India being a seafarer-supplying nation with a large pool of trained seafarers, it is expected to be significantly benefited by the MoU," the ministry added.

An agreement on healthcare workforce will facilitate the recruitment and training of nurses and allied health professionals from India by the UK. Given the shortage of nurses in the UK, the agreement will benefit both sides, it added.

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