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FTA talks with UK progressing extremely well: Goyal

Investment is being negotiated as a separate agreement (bilateral investment treaty) between India and the UK.

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JAIPUR, Aug 24: The ongoing negotiations between India and the UK on a free trade agreement (FTA) are progressing “extremely well” and it is expected to conclude at an early date, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

He said both sides are confident that they will come out with a “very” balanced, equitable and fair agreement in the interest of businesses and people of both the countries.

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When asked about the UK’s demand on import duty concessions on auto, whiskey and dairy products, he said India and the UK both are pressing hard for their requests and concerns.

“There is hardly an issue on which we are not negotiating and I assure you that it will be a strong and hard outcome that will come out of all these negotiations… I believe we have to talk with sincerity, with speed but ensuring balance… and we are both committed to come up with a win-win solution for both countries. I hope it can happen at an early date,” Goyal told reporters here.

The UK team is here for the Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting (TIMM).

The 12th round of talks between India and the UK is in progress here.

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Out of the total 26 chapters in the proposed FTA, 19 have been closed. Investment is being negotiated as a separate agreement (bilateral investment treaty) between India and the UK.

The main issues which could come up for discussion in this round include investment treaty, reduction of duties on auto and whiskey, rules of origin, intellectual property rights and matters pertaining to services.

Talking about the proposed trade pact with the European Union, the minister said that the negotiations are on but as the EU block has 27 nations, the negotiations would take a little longer.

“It’s a conglomeration of 27 countries, so certainly it takes a little longer in terms of building and forging consensus amongst all the nations on their side. Similarly, we have to assess various aspects of the trade agreement with the lens of 27 different countries with whom effectively we are entering into an agreement.

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“So that will be a little bit longer drawn process, but both the EU and India are committed to this agreement,” Goyal added.

The minister will also hold bilateral meetings with his UK and EU counterparts in New Delhi to review the progress of the negotiations.

When asked whether the ongoing round of talks between India and the UK officials would be the last one, he said, “We should allow our officials to negotiate for good outcomes. Good outcomes are not possible with limiting the ability to explore new areas and new avenues.”

Discussions are also going on between the countries on the bilateral investment treaty. The bilateral trade between the countries increased to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22. (PTI)

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