Home / News / India /  London Lord Mayor says free trade talks with India in final phase, Diwali deadline in sight

Vincent Keaveny, Lord Mayor of London confirmed that the Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between India and UK is now in its final phase and despite some outstanding issues there is optimism on both sides that the Diwali deadline for the draft agreement will be met.

Keaveny who was recently on a four-day visit to India met with the leading Indian businessman and investors as well as finance chiefs at the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) and Securities Exchange Board of India(SEBI).

Keaveny, who is also the ambassador for professional and financial services visited India in a bid to strengthen India-UK financial services links and to build strong and sustainable two-way capital flows

Talking about the visit Keaveny told news agency PTI, “It was a really good time to be in India with the FTA negotiations entering into their final phase,"

He also described his engagements with the RBI and SEBI as very “positive engagements" on sustainable finance and as an area of “tremendous opportunity".

Talking about the FTA deadline he said, “Prime Minister Modi has made it clear that he wants to sign the FTA by Diwali. There are some outstanding issues to be resolved but I think there’s a lot of optimism on both sides that we will get that done. Whatever the content of the agreement, it will be a real positive for the relationship between India and the UK across the board in the coming years,"

On newly elected Prime Minister Liz Truss's interest in the deal, Keaveny said, "Prime Minister Liz Truss is deeply engaged in international trade, she’s served as trade secretary and had a trade focus to her time as foreign secretary... we have a Prime Minister very conscious of trade issues and will be well placed to take this to the final leg."

The timeline for the India-UK FTA had been set during the former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to India in April this year and there had been some worry that with a change in leadership the deadline might get impacted. There is also speculation of PM Modi might also be planning a visit to the UK around Diwali which falls on October 24 this year.

The 693rd Lord Mayor of London also addressed the Global Fintech Festival in Mumbai, earlier this week and highlighted the huge demand for digital services in India as a sign of the growing India-UK exchanges in the field.

He said, “London is Europe’s top fintech hub. And we can all see that India is on the way to becoming Asia’s top fintech hub – with the highest fintech adoption rates in the entire world and the emergence of many unicorns,"

Talking about the positive impact of FTA in the fintech sector, he said, “We have the opportunity to enhance the connectivity between the UK and India fintech ecosystems – both business-to-business connections, but also connections through hubs and accelerators. Underscored by the UK-India relationship being at an all-time high. The free trade agreement negotiations will pave the way for significantly stronger trade flows between our nations significantly,"

“India has a very large infrastructure investment requirement, running into trillions of dollars. There is an opportunity here, which we in the City of London would be keen to support – to bring the capital that is there in the international markets into projects in India that need that capital for investment in infrastructure. That is a tremendous opportunity," Keaveny added

However, on the issue of Indian companies being able to list directly on International Stock Exchanges, he says, there is less of a "meeting of minds"

Elaborating on the issue he said, “Proposals to allow that to happen are currently on hold. We continue to advocate for that to happen. I think it will be beneficial to Indian corporates and the Indian corporate community to tell its story much more directly in the international markets,"

With inputs from PTI


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