India to discuss post-Brexit bilateral ties during UK minister’s visit

During the visit starting October 3, minister of state for the foreign and Commonwealth office Mike Field is also likely to sign a pact on cyber security

india Updated: Oct 03, 2017 08:59 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UK’s minister of state for the foreign and Commonwealth office Mike Field will be on a two-day visit to India from October 3. (Government of UK photo)

India and the UK will discuss ways to enhance their ties following Britain’s exit from the European Union, especially the trade relationship and mobility of people during the visit of British minister for Asia Mike Field to India.

Field, who is also minister of state for the foreign and Commonwealth office since June 2017, is also likely to sign a pact on cyber security during his two-day visit starting October 3.

This issue — in discussion for sometime between the two countries — hasn’t made much progress in terms of two sides agreeing on a definite plan for a cyber security agreement.

But the issue will be discussed at length when Field meets Union minister for information and technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.

According to officials privy to the development two sides have been discussing various aspects of cyber security cooperation, especially on fixing greater accountability on internet firms.

“The UK and India are natural partners in cyber security and we are committed to working with India to share best practise and threat analysis, as well as train and grow our cyber experts for the future,” Field said in the official release, announcing his visit.

The visit will see two sides discussing how the bilateral ties can progress after the Brexit. The two sides have been broadly discussing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 2007. Indian officials said the discussions on the FTA can happen only when UK leaves the European Union. India also doesn’t have an FTA with the European Union.

Various estimates show after Brexit India-UK trade can go up by 18%. The UK’s average export tariffs to India are estimated to be around 14.8% as against India’s around 8.5%.

There are also concerns about how the process will impact Indian companies, many of them used UK as a gateway to Europe.

“We have been getting inputs from various stake holders on this. We also need to see the terms on which UK leaving the EU to know more about the impact on the firms”, said an Indian official.

Another related issue for India is mobility of people. British officials have been insisting the Indian skilled workers could be on high demand after the Brexit. The recent figures from British government show movement of people from India to UK has gone up.

The year ending March 2017, the UK issued nearly half a million visas to Indians, a 6% year-over-year increase. The volume is second only to China.

First Published: Oct 01, 2017 14:30 IST