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Tenth round of FTA talks with UK next month in India

Live Mint - 15 May 2023

Tenth round of FTA talks with UK next month in India
By Ravi Dutta Mishra

Trade officials of India and UK are set to sit across the negotiating table for the tenth round of talks next month in India between 5 to 9th June, Directorate General of Foreign TTrade (DGFT) Santosh Sarangi said at a press briefing on Monday.

India-UK began trade talks in January 2021 but missed the Diwali deadline amid political uncertainty in the UK. However, both sides have refrained from giving out a deadline to complete talks.

The commerce ministry informed that investment is being negotiated as a separate agreement - [Bilateral Investment Treaty] and would be concluded simultaneously with India-UK FTA.

“About 13 chapters have been substantially closed for negotiators and significant progress in other chapters have been made," the ministry said.

The UK and India continue to differ on the issue of cross-border data flows as India’s requirement for data localisation is a major potential stumbling block, a report tabled in UK’s House of Commons on India-UK trade negotiations said.

UK demands encompass free cross-border data flows and a ban on data localisation requirements; preventing the mandatory transfer of source codes, algorithms and encryption keys.

“However, the UK and India appear to be very far apart on these issues. A major potential stumbling block in this regard has been the Indian government’s pursuit of legislation that could have the effect of requiring data localisation," International Trade Committee report said.

The committee further said that it remains to be seen how far the latest iteration of draft Indian data legislation, the Digital Data Protection Bill, will prove an obstacle to fulfilling the UK’s offensive interests in this regard.

As per a joint statement released by India and UK, UK and India held the ninth round of talks during 24-28 April for a UK-India FTA in London.

“As with previous rounds, these were conducted in a hybrid fashion - a number of officials from India traveled to London and others attended virtually.During the round, detailed discussions took place across a range of policy areas," the statement read.

 source: Live Mint