Fri, 09 Dec 2022

New Delhi [India], October 7 (ANI): India and UK are interested to conclude the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at the earliest as intensive discussions are underway keeping in view that it proves to be a win-win situation for both sides, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

Responding to a question on the status of the FTA, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a weekly presser said, "There is interest in both sides to conclude the FTA at the earliest. Diwali has been set as a goal. Intensive discussions are underway towards this and they are continuing."There are reports that UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman in an interview has talked about "reservations" over the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and has linked it to illegal immigration.

Speaking over these reports, Bagchi said, "Migration mobility is an important element and there's understanding about it. Whenever there is an Indian citizen abroad we strongly encourage legal migration. We will expect the UK side to show demonstrable action on it."Earlier, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had said that UK is "working intensely" with India to achieve FTAs soon.

This comes after Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had said the UK is keen to stick to the Diwali deadline for free trade agreements. "We have signed Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand - and we are working intensely to agree one with India soon", the foreign secretary Cleverly said.

In a keynote speech at the 9th Annual Milken Asia Summit, while setting out the UK's continued commitment in the Indo-Pacific region, the UK foreign secretary noted, "We were the first European country to secure a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India. And we intend to be the first European country to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It will give the region access to the UK's world-class financial services sector as well as, as well as the world's sixth largest economy. That's why engagement between the UK and Indo-Pacific needs to cover the broadest spectrum of activity."Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had said the UK is keen to stick to the Diwali deadline for India-UK free trade agreement and both countries are working towards it.

Speaking of India's engagements and the quest to become self-reliant, Goyal said, "If we don't engage with the international market, we are the losers...Today the whole world is talking of Atmanirbhar...There is no power that can stop us from becoming a developed nation in the next 25 years...The world wants to engage with us, the world has more confidence in us than we have."British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis had also said that India and the United Kingdom have the high ambition of completing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by Diwali this year. He had said that the agreement will increase employment and bring economic development to India over the next 25 years.

"Both, India and UK need to grow because we have great ambitions from both prime ministers. FTA is one of the best ways we can support the growth and development of India's economy and India's employment over the next 25 years. Now is the time to write a new chapter in our history as partners and support each other in our growth," the UK High Commissioner told ANI on the sidelines of an event held in New Delhi.

On being asked, if it could be a "Diwali Dhamaka", the UK High Commissioner nodded, saying, "I hope so.""I think we have high ambition on completing the FTA by Diwali. The FTA will create more jobs, more growth, and more opportunities for India to grow and develop," he added.The two countries concluded the fifth round of talks for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) last month. (ANI)

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