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Next round of India-UK FTA to be held in June

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NEW DELHI : India and the UK will hold their next round of talks for the proposed free trade agreement in June here and both the sides are aiming to conclude the negotiations at the earliest, a senior government official said on Monday. Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Santosh Kumar Saranagi said that trade negotiations are a matter of give and take and this has nothing to do with elections in individual countries. There will be general elections in India next year.

“The effort is to expedite the negotiations…(There was a) Diwali deadline (to conclude the talks last year) was given, but for variety of reasons, it was extended. But the effort on both sides is to conclude it at the earliest,” he told reporters here.

The tenth round of negotiation is from June 5-9 here and “hopefully we will make some substantial progress during that time,” he added. The negotiations were launched on January 13, 2021. The talks cover 26 policy areas/chapters.

Investment is being negotiated as a separate agreement — Bilateral Investment Treaty — which would be concluded simultaneously with the India-UK free trade agreement (FTA). So far 13 chapters have been substantially closed for negotiations and regular meetings held at higher levels to review the progress of talks and to resolve the outstanding issues.

He also informed that the fifth round of talks for a trade pact between India and the European Union (EU) is scheduled from June 19-23 in India. So far four rounds of negotiations have been completed till March.

During the last round, negotiations on 21 policy areas in 74 technical sessions were held. Both sides also discussed modalities for exchange of offer in goods and services. India’s commerce secretary and EU’s DG (Trade) will meet in August to review the progress.

About India-Canada trade agreement, the DGFT said that negotiations are at advance stage in goods and services market access. Seventh round of talks was held during April 3-6 in Ottawa, Canada.

Apart from traditional areas, the interim agreement may cover areas like SMEs, trade and gender, environment and labour.

On the comprehensive India-Australia agreement, he said that good progress was made in the agreed tracks and detailed work plan with indicative deadlines has been drawn up.

It is envisaged by both the countries to hold the 3rd and 4th round of negotiations during 5th-16th June and 3rd-14th July, respectively, so as to pave the way for early conclusion of the negotiations.

On the G20 talks, he said the second Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) meeting is now scheduled to be held on May 23-25 in Bengaluru.

In dedicated technical sessions, G20 delegates will deliberate on priority on WTO (World Trade Organisation) reform along with key deliverables on identified priority issues on trade for growth and prosperity, resilient global value chains, integrating MSMEs in global trade, and efficient logistics for trade.

The meeting will set the stage for building consensus among G20 countries on deliverables and outcomes proposed by India on global trade and investment-related issues.

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