The UK’s commerce secretary has refused to commit to a deadline to finalize a much-touted trade deal with India, but said looming elections in both countries have increased pressure to secure the deal. rice field.
both countries missed October deadline Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have agreed to secure an agreement at the Hindu celebration of Diwali after months of political turmoil in Britain.
Kemi Badenok, Secretary of Commerce under the British Prime Minister Rishi Snacktold the Financial Times that he no longer intends to promise deadlines, saying, “My view is that timelines are useless.”
However, she said the next general elections scheduled for around 2024 in both countries will make negotiations “difficult” if no agreement is reached by then.
“Even with the elections approaching, we know it won’t help us trying to get a free trade deal,” she said. “It’s something people will know, keep in mind, and understand in terms of the rough timelines we’re working on.”
“If we want to get this done, we need to pick up the pace,” she added.
Johnson’s claim that a deal with India could be secured this fall, though the Brexit promise of an early trade deal with the US never materialized, also turned out to be wishful thinking.
Badenok’s warning comes after backlash over the UK-Australia trade deal signed last year, with some Conservative MPs skeptical that the government too many concessions to Australia.
Britain’s former secretary of agriculture, George Eustis, recently admitted that the Australian deal — the most important ‘new’ trade deal signed since Brexit — is “not really a very good deal for Britain”.
Since the UK regained its own trading rights, most of the other trade deals the UK has signed have been ‘rollovers’, copy-paste renewals of agreements the UK had already enjoyed with third countries through EU membership. I attached it.
Badenoch traveled to New Delhi this week for the first in-person trade talks since July, after negotiations were delayed by the successive collapses of the governments of Johnson and Liz Truss. He said elections in India’s Gujarat state, which the Janata Party won by a landslide, further delayed negotiations.
India, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, has now overtaken the UK in size. big chance When the Modi government seeks to reduce its dependence on China.
But a trade deal with Delhi has proven controversial among some Brexit-backing Conservative MPs, with Home Secretary Suera Braverman saying in October that the deal would increase immigration. It provoked outrage in India for expressing a “reservation” because of the possibility.
As part of the deal, India is seeking expanded access to business visas for professionals to work in the UK. One of the UK’s main demands is to reduce tariffs on Scotch whiskey.
Indian officials had previously said most chapters of the deal had been finalized. Badenok said both sides had made progress on India’s request for visas, but that negotiations had reached their most difficult time.
“The few remaining bits are the hard bits,” she said, but didn’t provide details. By the way.”