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India to rework on FTA talks with EU
09
Jul '16
With Britain choosing to move out of European Union, India is exploring the possibility of a separate Free Trade Agreement with UK and will rework its strategy on negotiating the comprehensive free trade pact with EU, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

“The FTA talks with the European Union are going to be a fresh exercise,” Sitharaman told reporters after a meeting with visiting UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skill Sajid Javid in response to queries on the fate of the much awaited trade pact post Brexit.

"With the EU off course, it (the ongoing talks) shall continue but recalibrated; now that UK is out of EU, so we shall be doing both," she said.

When asked whether India and the UK are evaluating possibility of a preferential or a free trade agreement with the UK, she said, "naturally."

"Once the process of informal discussions starts then we get into discussions in detail. They will all fall into a formal framework...Whether it is a preferential or a free trade agreement that will be a mutually discussed matter," she said.

Sajid Javid, Sitharaman's British counterpart, described the discussion between them as “positive and constructive".

India and UK already have very strong trade and investment relations and the two sides were exploring informally the ways of moving forward in post-Brexit scenario.

Bilateral trade between India and UK stood at $ 14 billion in 2015-16 as against $ 14.33 billion in 2014-15. India received $ 23.10 billion FDI from Britain between April 2000 and March 2016.

The talks were centered on trade and investment related issues, the Indian minister said categorically denying that there was any mention of the Tata Steel Plant in UK in the discussions.

"My talks with him and his visit have been on informally but pro-actively engaging on trade related matters post Brexit and on that, I got the impression that the UK minister is very keen that we start the informal process and we are quite happy to engage with the UK post Brexit," she said.

Trade with UK is substantial. Indian investments in UK are one of the biggest. A lot of jobs created in the UK are by Indian investors, Seetharaman said adding that there was immense potential about talking on goods and services trade too.

The two countries also agreed on a meeting between the chief negotiators of both sides to explore the ways of taking the process forward, she said adding that industry bodies CII and FICCI and the UK CEOs Forum were active and they would be encouraged to have further interactions with one another to air their views. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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