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India pushing for mobility commitment, social security pact in FTA with UK

The Hindu BusinessLine | 30 March 2023

India pushing for mobility commitment, social security pact in FTA with UK


India is hoping to persuade the UK to weave in provisions of the bilateral migration and mobility agreement, that allows enhanced opportunity for young professionals to live and work in each other’s countries, into the free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated to make mobility concessions “institutionalised” and permanent, sources have said.

As the India-UK FTA negotiations gain momentum, New Delhi is also keen that a social security agreement with the UK gets included in the pact so that Indian professionals working in the country for a short period don’t lose money in social security contributions they cannot benefit from, a source tracking the matter told businessline.

The UK, however, has been resisting both demands made by India, the source said. But with India now in a position to give some concessions in legal services its negotiating hand might have become stronger.

Right time

“If the migration and mobility agreement is included in the FTA then it will become institutionalised and the provisions can’t be changed easily. That is why India is trying so hard for it. With the Bar Council now allowing partial entry for foreign law firms, India may be in a position to negotiate harder. The UK has been seeking an opening in the Indian legal sector for long,” the source explained.

The migration and mobility agreement, signed by India and the UK in 2021, is likely to lead to enhanced mobility provisions for the young citizens of both countries and allow them to live and work in the two countries for up to two years.

‘Big gain for India’

A social security agreement with the UK can help Indian professionals working temporarily in the UK save up to 500 million pounds every year in compulsory contributions for pension that they would not be able to enjoy as their work tenure would end much earlier, the source said.

“If India manages to convince the UK to include a social security agreement in the FTA, it will be a big gain. The problem is that the UK would not gain much from it as the number of UK professionals working in India is low,” the source added.

India and the UK concluded their eighth round of negotiations in New Delhi on March 20-24 in a hybrid mode. Of the 26 chapters being covered in the FTA, which include goods, services, investments, government procurement, e-commerce, gender and IPR, about 13 chapters have been closed, sources said.

 source: The Hindu BusinessLine