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India-UK conclude fifth round of FTA talks

Initially proposed to be an early harvest agreement or interim FTA covering 65% of goods and up to 40% services, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had expressed optimism that the full pact would be ready by Diwali without the need for an interim early harvest agreement.Premium
Initially proposed to be an early harvest agreement or interim FTA covering 65% of goods and up to 40% services, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had expressed optimism that the full pact would be ready by Diwali without the need for an interim early harvest agreement.

  • For this round of negotiations, technical experts from both sides came together for detailed draft treaty text discussions in 85 separate sessions covering 15 policy areas

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Bengaluru: India and the UK concluded the fifth round of talks for a free trade agreement on 29 July, and aim to conclude the deal by the end of October this year, the commerce and industry ministry said in a release on Thursday. 

The talks were held in a hybrid manner with some of the teams meeting in New Delhi and the majority of officials joining virtually.

“For this round of negotiations, technical experts from both sides came together for detailed draft treaty text discussions in 85 separate sessions covering 15 policy areas," said the release. “India and the UK officials will continue to work intensively throughout the summer towards our target to conclude the majority of talks on a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement by the end of October 2022," it added.

India and the UK have covered significant ground in the past rounds, with the UK agreeing to eliminate duty on Indian rice and textile goods, while India is likely to allow duty-free entry of British apples, UK-manufactured medical devices, and machinery.

Initially proposed to be an early harvest agreement or interim FTA covering 65% of goods and up to 40% services, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had expressed optimism that the full pact would be ready by Diwali without the need for an interim early harvest agreement.

The agreement is estimated to double India-UK bilateral trade to about $100 billion by 2030.

An agreement is also expected on mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, a person aware of the development said.

India will likely get more skilled visas, with the UK currently facing a shortage of experts in the IT and programming sectors.

The India-UK FTA deal is also expected to give a boost to the domestic textile sectors. Exporters told Mint that the UK is among the most important markets for them among all other markets where India has got duty-free access such as UAE, and Australia.

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