India and the United Kingdom have begun negotiations on a free trade agreement that is anticipated to enhance bilateral trade by billions of dollars, in one of the most ambitious negotiations to occur following Brexit.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the British International Trade Secretary, is in New Delhi to meet with Piyush Goyal, India's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, food, public distribution, and textiles. Negotiations will begin in earnest next week, officials added.
Both parties expect the agreement would result in significant benefits for various industries, ranging from food and beverage to cutting-edge renewable energy.
According to a British government statement, the agreement can quadruple UK exports to India and increase bilateral trade by $38 billion (€33.2 billion) each year by 2035.
"A deal with India represents a golden opportunity to position UK businesses ahead of the competition as the Indian economy continues to grow rapidly," Trevalyan said, adding that Britain was eager to tap into Asia's growing middle class.
Her visit reflects Britain's aspirations to refocus its trade policies in the Indo-Pacific region following its exit from the European Union in 2016. India, a former British colony, is considered a suitable site in light of the uncertainty surrounding relations with China.
Indian companies already support 95,000 jobs in the UK.
Britain is pursuing a deal that eliminates hurdles to industry and trade, including tariff reductions on exports of British-made automobiles and Scotch whisky.
In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, Trevelyan stated Thursday that "everything is on the table for discussion," including expanding visa access for Indian students and skilled employees. She said that she hoped to conclude a deal by early 2023.
According to the External Affairs Ministry of India, India and the United Kingdom concentrated on five major areas: people-to-people relations, trade, defense and security, climate action, and health.
India and the United Kingdom have extensive ties, with the former investing in 120 projects to overtake the United States as the most significant source of foreign direct investment in 2019. In 2019-20, the two nations exchanged $15.45 billion (€13.5 billion) in goods.