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November 27, 2022

Source: indianexpress.com

India and the UK were expected to sign on the FTA by Diwali but they missed the deadline due to lack of consensus and the transition in the UK political leadership.

In their first conversation since Rishi Sunak entered 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the new British Prime Minister Thursday and they agreed on the importance of early conclusion of a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement.

India and the UK were expected to sign on the FTA by Diwali but they missed the deadline due to lack of consensus and the transition in the UK political leadership.

After the call, Modi, in a Twitter post, said, “Glad to speak to Rishi Sunak today. Congratulated him on assuming charge as UK PM. We will work together to further strengthen our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We also agreed on the importance of early conclusion of a comprehensive and balanced FTA.”

Sunak expressed his gratitude to Modi and said he is “excited” about what the two “great democracies” can achieve as they deepen their ties.

Taking to Twitter, Sunak said, “Thank you Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your kind words as I get started in my new role. The UK and India share so much. I’m excited about what our two great democracies can achieve as we deepen our security, defence and economic partnership in the months & years ahead.”

In his previous role as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak had expressed support for the FTA as he saw enormous opportunities for both countries in the fintech and insurance sectors.

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The phone conversation between the Prime Ministers came a day ahead of British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s visit to India.

In Mumbai Friday, Cleverly will pay his respects to those who lost their lives in the terror attack at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in 2008.

On Saturday, he will travel to New Delhi to speak at the Special Meeting of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. He will call upon countries to work together to fight online terrorism, including global terror recruitment campaigns and live streaming of attacks.

He is also due to meet Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar to discuss the latest on the 2030 Roadmap, the landmark commitment to boost cooperation between the UK and India over the next decade under a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

“Since it was launched last year, huge progress has been made, including the start of ambitious free trade negotiations, the expansion of our defence and security partnership, including through a visit to India last year by HMS Queen Elizabeth and the Carrier Strike Group (CSG), and joint exercises to enhance cyber security collaboration,” the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

Cleverly said, “Our relationship with India is hugely important to me; as the world’s largest democracy, India is a natural partner for the UK in the Indo-Pacific. It is an economic and tech powerhouse. Our deeper ties will boost both our economies and help to tackle global security challenges.”

“I look forward to working even more closely with India when it takes up the G20 Presidency in December,” he said.

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