India, UK set stage for post-Brexit free trade pact
Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and international trade secretary Elizabeth Truss chaired the 14th Joint Economic and Trade Committee (Jetco) virtually, joined by minister of state Hardeep Singh Puri and his UK counterpart, Ranil Jayawardena.Updated: Jul 24, 2020 18:41 IST
India and the United Kingdom on Friday set in motion plans to hold monthly meetings on key sectors as part of moves to sign a free trade agreement after the Brexit process is complete on December 31, when the UK will trade with global partners without being a member of the EU.
Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and international trade secretary Elizabeth Truss chaired the 14th Joint Economic and Trade Committee (Jetco) virtually, joined by minister of state Hardeep Singh Puri and his UK counterpart, Ranil Jayawardena.
Under the plans, Puri and Jayawardena will hold monthly meetings to intensify dialogue, fed by inputs on working groups on three key sectors identified as focus areas: life science and health, information and communications technology and food and drink.
The three sectors are among five both countries will focus on during formal negotiations for the free trade agreement, which can begin only after the Brexit process is over on December 31. The other two sectors are chemicals and services.
India’s experience with existing FTAs with various countries has been mixed. The UK’s eagerness for the FTA with India has been met with a wait-and-watch approach in New Delhi, where a review of all FTAs is envisaged by Goyal to protect the interests of Indian industry and traders.
In the long-stalled EU-India free trade talks, easier mobility of Indian professionals (the so-called Mode 4) is one of the key areas New Delhi has been insisting on. Brussels believes there will be better chances of reaching the agreement with India after Britain leaves the EU.