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India, UK Discuss Ways To Promote Trade, Investments

A joint statement notes that discussions were carried out on the 'entire range' of bilateral trade and economic relations in a spirit of mutual understanding of each other's priorities and trade sensitivities.

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India and the UK have held discussions on promoting bilateral trade and investments between the two countries, an official statement said on Monday.

The talks were held between Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss MP on February 6.

Both the ministers agreed to deepen trade cooperation between the two countries through an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP).

'They also reviewed progress in removing market access barriers on both sides and ongoing cooperation in response to COVID-19,' the commerce ministry said.

It added that the two sides reviewed the ongoing engagements between the two sides for an ETP to develop a road map that would lead to a potential comprehensive FTA (free-trade agreement), including considerations on an interim pact on a preferential basis.

'In a significant step forward, the ministers agreed that this partnership would formally be launched during the visit of UK Prime Minister to India, later this year,' it said.

The two countries also expressed commitment to relaunch the UK-India CEO Forum and agreed on the Forum's meeting at the earliest.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had postponed a planned visit to New Delhi as the chief guest for Republic Day last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis domestically. He has said that he intends to make a visit to India ahead of the G7 Summit, presided over by the UK in June.

It is expected that an ETP would pave the way for a full-fledged free-trade agreement (FTA) over time.

A joint statement notes that discussions were carried out on the 'entire range' of bilateral trade and economic relations in a spirit of mutual understanding of each other's priorities and trade sensitivities.

'The ministers agreed to further accelerate the process towards the launch of the ETP, and committed to interact on a regular basis, while identifying quick and concrete bilateral deliverables that could cement the ETP and immediately benefit the people of both countries,' the statement said.

In relation to the pandemic response, the ministers welcomed the strong bilateral health cooperation between India and the UK, including on vaccines, which is said to be enabling both countries to act as a 'global force for good' during these challenging times. 

(PTI)