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India and the UK opened a new chapter in bilateral ties on Tuesday with the launch of a new Enhanced Trade Partnership that sets the goal of doubling trade by 2030 and paving the way for a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement.

This is seen as one of the key takeaways from the India-UK summit which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson.

A “Vision 2030" document that charts out a revitalised partnership for the next decade across the entire spectrum of ties was another take away from the summit. “Through this ambitious roadmap, we will elevate the India-UK relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership," it said. Progress on the roadmap would be reviewed every year by the two foreign ministers and reported to the two prime ministers.

Among nine pacts signed at the summit was one on Migration and Mobility Partnership that “will facilitate legal movement of students and professionals and also enhance cooperation between India and UK in combating illegal migration," a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said. It “creates a new scheme for exchange of young professionals under which every year upto 3,000 young Indian professionals can avail employment opportunities in UK for a period of two years without being subject to labour market test," the statement said. The pact was signed by Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in London.

On the Enhanced Trade Partnership, the Vision 2030 document said it includes the intent of both countries to “to negotiate a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement."

Describing it as an “important" and “historic" moment in ties, Sandeep Chakravarty, joint secretary in charge of Western Europe in the Indian foreign ministry said that Modi and Johnson had “agreed that they would quickly conclude the FTA (free trade agreement) discussions."

“And I think if you have an FTA with the UK that will be a transformational element in our relationship," Chakravarty said pointing out the opportunities in a post Brexit scenario – after the UK left the European Union.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his UK counterpart Elizabeth Truss had signed a declaration on the Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) on Tuesday Chakravarty said. “There is a deadline (for the talks). They ( the two leaders) have agreed that they will conclude the pre FTA discussions by the end of this year. Then early next year or by the middle of next year, both sides have agreed on an interim trade deal and continue the discussions for an FTA. FTAs are long drawn out discussions but today the two leaders agreed that they will not draw it too long and it is in our mutual benefit to conclude the FTA at an early date," he said.

“As part of the confidence building measures they (India and the UK) have also agreed on an early market access package" under the ETP, Chakravarty said.

“Under this, the UK will open up the fisheries sector for more Indian players, facilitate more opportunities for nurses, recognise Indian seafarers certificates and also enter into a joint dialogue on the Social Security Agreement. In return, India has agreed to UK's asks on fruits, medical devices, and mutual recognition of masters degrees and also work towards reciprocal opening of legal services. These actions are likely to generate 20-25,000 new direct and indirect jobs in India," he said.

The Vision 2030 document talked of carrying on cooperation to reduce or remove market access barriers faced by Indian businesses in the UK and UK businesses in India. Both sides would “continue to share experience on regulatory reform, tax administration, and trade facilitation and standards through the early conclusion of a new and refreshed UK-India Ease of Doing Business MoU," it said.

The two countries would also explore “longer term options for a UK concessional finance offer to mobilise UK expertise into clean, green and sustainable infrastructure projects in India," the document said.

Apart from this, India and the UK would aim to strengthen two-way investments “with the goal of investing into Indian start-ups, early-stage and green businesses and other innovative ventures and contributing towards sustainable development," it said.

Deepening cooperation on infrastructure “through the new UK-India Partnership on Infrastructure Financing and Policy to support India’s ambitious plans for delivering inclusive resilient and sustainable infrastructure under the National Infrastructure Pipeline," has found mention in the roadmap.

Expansion of cooperation between the educational institutions of the two countries under the framework of India’s New Education Policy that was announced last year has been outlined in the roadmap given that the UK has been a favourite education destination for thousands of Indian students.

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