UK India on Track for Free Trade Agreement by Diwali: Piyush Goyal
London, May 27, 2022: India's Minister for Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, formally flagged off UK-India Week 2022, organised by UK-headquartered India Global Forum (IGF), at a special curtain raiser event in London with a positive message of a win-win Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the works for the two nations.
In conversation with IGF Founder Professor Manoj Ladwa at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate on May 26th evening, the senior Indian Cabinet Minister shared insights on a wide range of subjects - from his recent interactions at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos with businesses around the world keen on investing in the India story to the Narendra Modi led government's increasingly FTA-friendly and outward-looking engagement with the world.
The minister said: "There's a big difference between the mood in India and the mood in the rest of the world. In India, there's a lot of excitement about the future, our young India is looking at the future with great hope and aspiration.
"Davos, unfortunately, represented quite a bit of doom and gloom. Most of the engagements showed that participants were very disturbed, concerned, slightly pessimistic about the future of multilateralism, already talking about deglobalisation.
"We in India look at the future with great optimism, we believe these things will also pass as have many other challenges. India is ready to engage with the world from a position of strength."
On the subject of FTAs, he pointed to the two fast deals clinched with the UAE and Australia, with Canada progressing well towards an Early Harvest Agreement.
The minister added: "With the UK, we had agreed to do an Early Harvest Agreement - basically, to grab the low-hanging fruits and leave the more difficult elements for the next stage and give the people of both countries the confidence that this agreement is a win-win and create an automatic demand for more.
"We are working towards a fair deal and a win-win for both countries."
The event brought together prominent UK-based parliamentarians, business chiefs and academics to set the tone for IGF's UK-India Week 2022 next month, themed around Reimagine@75 - as a celebration of 75 years of India's independence and UK-India ties.
HE Gaitri Issar Kumar, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, said: "Our teams are looking at the possibility of completing the trade agreement as fast as possible. In fact, Hon. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited our Hon. Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] to come to London and announce the Free Trade Agreement with him.
"I have no doubt that under the stewardship of Hon. Minister Shri Piyush Goyal and Rt Hon. Trade Secretary Madam Anne-Marie Trevelyan, we will move with the greatest speed and efficiency towards this target."
Minister Goyal, who is on a visit to the UK, has been holding talks with his UK counterpart - Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan - and engaging with business chiefs and stakeholders to ensure progress towards a UK-India FTA.
The trade talks are expected to be central to the wide-ranging deliberations and interactions planned for UK-India Week across various sectors, with some of the highlight speakers confirmed as:
- Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK Government
- Dr S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India
- Bill Winters, CEO, Standard Chartered
- Harmeen Mehta, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer, BT
- Virat Bhatia, Managing Director, Apple
- Dr Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament for Thiruvananthapuram, Lok Sabha
- Falguni Nayar, Founder and CEO, Nykaa
- Amit Kapur, CEO, UK & Ireland, TCS
Complete list here.
"Across five invigorating days, we'll be joined by over 100 leading politicians, global business leaders, innovators and disruptors from the UK, India and beyond as they discuss, debate and deliberate global developments, their impact on India and the UK and how businesses can thrive in the face of challenging global events."
The curtain raiser in London also marked the launch of the Shortlist for the UK-India Awards, slated for 1 July 2022.
*Watch full UK-India Week programme here