Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his British counterpart Kemi Badenoch will meet here on Tuesday as both sides are engaged over the sixth round of talks for the bilateral Free Trade Agreement.
This is the first in-person meeting between the two figures since Ms. Badenoch came in as part of the government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last October. Ahead of her visit, Trade Secretary Badenoch set the agenda of her visit saying she will “not discuss hundreds more student visas” for Indians, The Telegraph has reported.
“Both nations have come to the table with the very highest of ambitions and a willingness to work together towards a mutually beneficial deal. India and the UK are the fifth and sixth biggest economies in the world,” said Trade Secretary Badenoch promising to create jobs and boost trading relationship
The trade talks had stalled after the last round in July and missed the Diwali deadline that was given by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. UK aims to target a deal that will cut Indian tariffs and “open opportunities for UK services such as financial and legal, making it easier for British businesses to sell to an economy set to be the world’s third largest”, declared a statement released by the British High Commission here.
Ms Badenoch is expected to meet with business leaders in India to understand the industry requirements. The Telegraph of the UK reported that Ms Badenoch has described the “student visas” as “home office matters”. “Often FTAs get dragged into things that aren’t to do with trade... Making sure we don’t let business talks turn into Home Office talks is very key for me,” the newspaper quoted the Trade Secretary saying.
The issue had triggered a controversy when Home Secretary Suella Braverman had expressed her concern saying that Indian students often overstay their visa. PM Sunak last month cleared a plan to allow 3000 degree holding Indian students to stay on for two years.
India has concluded a comprehensive trade pact with the United Arab Emirates and an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement with Australia while discussions for similar pacts are underway with multiple countries including the European Union (EU).