NEW DELHI: Trade and investment with Great Britain pushing India for a free trade agreement – along with Indo-Pacific, defense and security and cooperation for early recovery of Covid-19 – set the agenda for the meeting on Tuesday between visiting British Secretary of State Dominic Raab and his colleague S Jaishankar.
Raab, only second foreign minister to visit India since the start of the pandemic after his US counterpart Mike Pompeo, also confirmed in a joint press conference UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsonparticipation as a main guest in the Republic Day celebrations next month. While describing India’s invitation as a great honor, Jaishankar said the development symbolized a new era in ties between India and Britain. Britain has also invited Modi to join the G7 summit in Britain next year.
Both countries have agreed on a 10-year, 360-degree roadmap to upgrade the Indian-British partnership to the next level with Raab listing an improved trade partnership next year and a future free trade agreement as the top priority.
“I think that could unlock huge opportunities for British and Indian companies, reducing barriers in areas like food and beverage, healthcare and life sciences, IT, data, chemicals and financial services. I think there are some exciting opportunities ahead of time,” he said. said Raab. Britain has eagerly strengthened trade ties with India to compensate for the damage of its exit from the EU.
When asked how serious India is about the free trade agreement with Britain as it came out of RCEP, which consists of Asia-Pacific countries, Jaishankar said there is a serious intention to promote trade relations with Britain. He added that this is similar to comparing apples with oranges as no one was asked to pass on India’s experiences and decisions with RCEP to the negotiations with the UK.
India said in a statement that in order to exploit the full potential of bilateral trade and economic relations, both sides acknowledged the importance of quickly tracking trade agreement talks and concluding a “comprehensive agreement on migration and mobility” that can facilitate faster movement. of students and professionals in both directions.
Jaishankar said the talks focused on 5. Broad topics – linking people, trade and prosperity, defense and security, climate and health. “The situation in Afghanistan, the development of the Indo-Pacific and developments in the Middle East have been among the issues that have emerged. The challenges posed by terrorism and radicalism have been a common concern,” he said.
Jaishankar was also accompanied at the meeting of the chief scientific adviser who is coordinating the response of India Covid vaccine. Raab said the proudest example of an Indo-British partnership today was at Covid-19.
“University of Oxford, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute India cooperated closely. And the Institute now plans to produce one billion doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of next year, many of which will be destined for low- and middle-income countries, ”he said.
Raab also listed a commitment to build a stronger defense and security partnership with India and cooperation on climate change as 2 other priorities in its 10-year UK-India roadmap.
While India pushed Britain to come up with its own Indo-Pacific policy, the British High Commission said in a statement that Raab’s visit marked Britain’s last step to build closer relations with “like-minded countries” in the Indo-Pacific. region, with India a key strategic partner. Raab also reaffirmed that the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group will visit the Indo-Pacific region next year.