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India, UK must revive Doha trade talks: Osborne

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Sept 11: Free and fair trade is a key to a sustained growth and prosperity of all nations and trade distorting practices must be completely removed, Mr George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK said today.

Free and fair trade is possible if Britain ensures that the European Union does not put barriers to external as it develops its internal market, said Mr Osborne at a session on 'Seizing Opportunities of the New Global Economy', organised by the (CII) during his visit to India.

In addition, both India and Britain must work towards restarting the Doha round of negotiations. Failing that, the EU and India could consider a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

This FTA could be a deal with the EU to open its markets in a way similar to the everything but arms initiative, that has allowed the poorest small countries access to EU markets, he said.

Mr Osborne said increased trade in services is another area, that both sides could address. This could be assisted by mutually recognising professional qualifications.

Other issues included the double taxation treaty to ensure that the British investments in India, and Indian investments in Britain, are taxed fairly.

Mr Osborne said India's economy had grown at a faster rate since it liberalised itself, compared to the years before, when it has been inward looking. Institutions and infrastructure played a crucial role in the equitable distribution of wealth generated by free and fair trade.

Free and fair trade means equal partners on a level playing field. This precludes negotiated deals that favour the rich and a goal of no barriers to trade. It means reforming skewed policies like the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, he added.

He said India should continue to reform its insurance and financial services in order to facilitate access to credit in small towns. At the same time, India has emerged as the third largest investor in Britain, with several large companies like the Tatas and Nicholas Piramal buying out or setting up facilities there.

Addressing the session CII Vice-President Sunil Bharti Mittal said the Indo-British Partnership, begun in 1993, is now well-known in business and commercial circles in India and the UK.

India is seeking international expertise and investments in health to improve the quality of delivery while reducing costs. It is also seeking collaboration in defence production, agriculture, horticulture and the retail sector, he added.

The objective is to create an awareness of the economic and political climate in India. This year, Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath and Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal joined the delegation in London.

British High Commissioner to India, Sir Michael Arthur invited Indian companies to use the UK as a base to launch their European operations. Business links between the two countries have increased in recent years and is likely to accelerate in the future. The Conservative leadership will also put this forward.


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