UK and India begin free trade talks

Out-Law News | 21 Jan 2022 | 1:05 am | 1 min. read

The UK and India have begun free trade agreement talks in Delhi aiming to sign a deal by end of the year, which will increase bilateral trade by billions of pounds.

According to a statement by the UK government, the deal is expected to increase UK exports to India by £28 billion a year by 2035. The UK also wants to remove barriers to business and trade with India’s £2 trillion economy and market of 1.4 billion consumers, including cutting tariffs on exports of British-made cars and Scotch whisky.

Kotsonis Totis

Dr. Totis Kotsonis

Partner, Head of Subsidies, Procurement, Trade Agreements and Trade Remedies

India’s readiness to conclude new trade deals, is of course great news for Britain and augurs well for the successful conclusion of the UK-India trade negotiations, despite any potential challenges on the way.

According to the UK’s international trade department, the proposed deal (92-page / 9.8MB PDF) would help the two countries to develop in innovative sectors including emerging technologies, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would benefit from greater transparency and lower costs provided by the deal. The deal would also help to develop UK’s green industries, the department said.

Trade law expert Dr. Totis Kotsonis at Pinsent Masons said: “The proposed timetable is hugely ambitious, given the size of the two economies and diversity of interests which the two sides would need to acknowledge and ultimately find ways of accommodating in concluding a comprehensive trade deal. It’s worth recalling that, over the last 15 years, India had commenced trade negotiations with a number of partners only for those negotiations to be subsequently suspended or abandoned. However, this time things might be different.”

“In addition to trade negotiations with Britain, India has recently agreed to open or re-open trade negotiations with Australia, Canada, as well as the EU, among others. This seemingly renewed impetus for trade negotiations, could be connected with India’s earlier decision not to accede to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade bloc, the only ASEAN country that refused to do so. A series of new bilateral free trade agreements would help ensure India’s easier access to important international markets, despite that decision. India’s readiness to conclude new trade deals, is of course great news for Britain and augurs well for the successful conclusion of the UK-India trade negotiations, despite any potential challenges on the way,” he said.

A deal with India “would be a big step forward in the UK’s strategy to refocus trade on the Indo-Pacific”, the UK government said in a statement. 

A BBC report said the two countries could reach a limited agreement in the next few months.