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Business News/ News / India/  India, UK free trade talks move to business mobility chapter
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India, UK free trade talks move to business mobility chapter

Kemi Badenoch, UK minister for business and trade, said, overall visa liberalization issues do not come under the ambit of trade pacts.

Kemi Badenoch, UK minister for business and trade. (Reuters)Premium
Kemi Badenoch, UK minister for business and trade. (Reuters)

JAIPUR : India and Britain are discussing business mobility under their proposed free trade agreement (FTA), Kemi Badenoch, the UK minister for business and trade, said on Thursday.

Overall visa liberalization issues do not come under the ambit of trade pacts, she clarified. In the services sector, she said, the UK is the largest market in Europe for Indian IT services.

India’s services exports are on the rise even as goods exports are slowing due to lack of demand in the West.

“We are now in the final stages (of FTA negotiations), I can’t give a deadline. Anything can happen. I don’t like to raise people’s expectations… but I am very optimistic and I am working closely with my counterpart, (commerce) minister Piyush Goyal, to make sure that we can deliver something that both our countries will find mutually beneficial," Badenoch told reporters.

She is in Jaipur to attend a G20 trade and investment ministers meeting.

The UK minister said the two countries are working to accommodate issues with regard to a bilateral investment treaty and business mobility so that the FTA works for both of them.

“Actually, visas and visa liberalization don’t come within free trade agreement. It’s an immigration issue, which is dealt with by our home office and we have a points-based (visa) system.

“What I look at is business, for which business mobility comes into the trade framework. And that’s something again, as I said, I can’t go into the details. Bilateral investment treaty, business mobility —these are the things which we are actively discussing, to find an accommodation that works for both the countries, so I am optimistic," Badenoch said.

She was replying to a question about an Indian demand for the UK to open up more visas for Indian workers.

As the fifth round of negotiations progresses, the two sides are looking to iron out differences on issues like investment treaty, rules of origin and intellectual property rights. Badenoch said the UK is “very" serious about getting the deal done.

“I cannot go into the details of all the negotiations -- the chief negotiators know the details. We don’t want to interfere with the work that they are doing. But what I will say is that like any negotiations, the hardest bits tend to come at the end," she said, adding, however, that several chapters of the pact have been closed.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated: 24 Aug 2023, 10:19 PM IST
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