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India & UK look to close FTA talks on five chapters with contentious issues

Indian Express - 15 July 2023

India & UK look to close FTA talks on five chapters with contentious issues

India and the UK are looking to close negotiations over five chapters dealing with contentious issues such as digital trade, environment and labour in the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, a senior government official said.

Out of 26 chapters in the FTA negotiations between the two countries, discussions on 14 chapters have been closed and negotiations are currently underway on other chapters.

On June 9, India and the UK concluded the tenth round of talks for the India-UK FTA. The 11th round of negotiation is currently underway in the UK from July 10 to July 19.

In addition, the two countries are also working to iron out differences on issues like intellectual property rights (IPR) and rules of origin and some differences in the services sector under the FTA negotiations, the official said.

“There are some issues over IPR, rules of origin and some differences over the services sector. Still some issues are left out… we will be able to close those issues soon,” the official said.

Noting that the India-UK FTA is the “most complex” which will be signed by India since it also has many non-trade issues, the official said this FTA would also be the most comprehensive FTA that India has not signed with any other developed country as such.

The commerce ministry had on Wednesday stated that the India-UK talks for the free trade agreement have reached a “critical stage”. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was in London from July 10-12 for the FTA talks.

The ministry also stated that the ninth round of talks for the India-Canada trade agreement is also underway till July 21. On the India-EU pact, the ministry said that during the fifth round of talks, modalities for exchange of market access offers in goods, and government procurement was discussed and finalised. Negotiations on the small and medium enterprises chapter have concluded and the textual part of government procurement has also been agreed in principle.

About the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), it said that India will participate in the legal scrubbing process of supply chain agreement and text-based negotiations for a clean economy and fair economy at Busan. Launched in May last year at Tokyo, the IPEF has 14 partner countries including Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the US.

 source: Indian Express