India and the United Kingdom concluded the first round of discussion for the ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on Friday. The discussion was conducted over two weeks and included 32 sessions that dealt with 26 policy areas, including trade in goods, services, telecommunications, investment and intellectual property.
“The negotiations were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade between the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world. The positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the U.K. and India to make positive and efficient progress,” a joint outcome statement has announced.
The discussion also covered customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, competition, SMEs, sustainability, transparency, trade and development, Geographical Indicators (GIs) and digital issues. The negotiations were launched by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his U.K. counterpart Anne-Marie Trevelyan on January 13.
Mr. Goyal had expressed hope that the discussions could be concluded within months.The second round of negotiation is due to take place on March 7-8.“Both teams maintain a shared ambition to conclude negotiations by the end of 2022 as part of both sides’ efforts to secure a comprehensive agreement,” the Joint Outcome Statement declared. India and the U.K. are also considering concluding an Interim Agreement before the comprehensive agreement is signed.