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United Kingdom-India Free Trade Agreement: Consultation

Volume 696: debated on Tuesday 25 May 2021

This morning, the Department for International Trade launched a public consultation on a future Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India. This consultation will make sure that the public, business, civil society and trade unions across our nation, can have their say on Government’s approach to a future trade agreement with India. As with all consultations, my Department and I will continue to engage Parliament and the Devolved Administrations throughout the scoping of an FTA with India. Today’s announcement is consistent with the Government’s approach of consulting widely ahead of launching trade negotiations, to ensure our position is tailored to the UK economy and supports our national interest.

India, as the world’s largest democracy, enjoys many shared values with the United Kingdom, as well as strong cultural links. It is expected to become the second biggest economy in the world by the mid-2030s, presenting significant trade and investment opportunities as a key partner for us in the increasingly important Indo-Pacific region. On 4 May 2021, the Prime Minister launched the United Kingdom-India Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) with Prime Minister Modi of India as part of the “2030 Roadmap” between the two countries, which includes a declaration of our shared intent to begin work towards a comprehensive FTA. A future comprehensive deal could provide opportunities for businesses across the United Kingdom in key sectors of mutual interest such as healthcare, technology and services. It would boost an already strong economic relationship too; bilateral trade more than doubled between 2007 and 2019, standing at around £23 billion at the end of this period, and the bilateral investment relationship currently supports nearly half a million jobs across both countries. As in all negotiations, we remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, product and food safety, and animal welfare standards in any trade agreement with India, as well as protecting the National Health Service (NHS).

The online consultation opens today on and will be live for 14 weeks. It will be accompanied by an information note that sets out the definition and scope of an FTA, along with detailed analytical information on the United Kingdom’s current trade and investment relationship with India. Government aim to complete scoping before the end of this year, with the results informing our approach to full FTA negotiations.