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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday reiterated the United Kindom's commitment to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India as a part of the country's wider focus on enhancing ties with the Indo-Pacific region, according to the news agency PTI.

Sunak delivered his first foreign policy speech at the Lord Mayor of London’s Banquet on Monday night since taking charge at 10 Drowning Street last month.

During his speech, the Prime Minister also reflected upon his heritage and commitment to promoting British values of freedom and openness around the world. When it came to China, he pledged to do things differently and said that it poses a systematic challenge to British values and interests.

"Before I came into politics, I invested in businesses around the world. And the opportunity in the Indo-Pacific is compelling," said Sunak, as quoted by PTI.

"By 2050, the Indo-Pacific will deliver over half of global growth compared with just a quarter from Europe and North America combined. That's why we're joining the Trans-Pacific trade deal, the CPTPP, delivering a new FTA with India and pursuing one with Indonesia," he added.

He further stated that he wants to evolve the UK's approach as he distanced his government from a slogan used by the previous Conservative Party-led government to describe UK-China bilateral relations just over seven years ago.

"Let's be clear, the so-called ‘golden era’ is over, along with the naïve idea that trade would lead to social and political reform. But nor should we rely on simplistic Cold War rhetoric. We recognize China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism," he cautioned, PTI reported. 

Sunak also confirmed that further details on the UK's foreign policy outlook will be laid out in an updated 'Integrated Review' in the new year, which will also cover closer collaboration with the Commonwealth.

 

(With PTI inputs)

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