India-U.K. agree to continue to ‘work at pace’ towards a Free Trade Agreement

Prime Minister Narenda Modi holds bilateral meetings with his U.K. and Italian counterparts on the sidelines of the G-20 summit

September 09, 2023 10:49 pm | Updated September 10, 2023 07:11 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 9, 2023 in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 9, 2023 in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Reviewing progress on the India-U.K. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the works, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak agreed that Ministers and negotiating teams would continue “to work at pace” towards an agreement.

In a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Giorgia Meloni, Mr. Modi appreciated Italy’s support for India’s G-20 Presidency as well as Italy joining the Global Biofuel Alliance and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

“We discussed ways to deepen trade linkages and boost investment. India and U.K. will keep working for a prosperous and sustainable planet,” Mr. Modi said on the social media platform ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) after a bilateral meeting with Mr. Sunak on the sidelines of the ongoing G-20 summit. Mr. Modi also conveyed his appreciation for the U.K.’s support during India’s G20 Presidency, marked by “high-level participation at various G20 meetings and events”.

“Two nations, one ambition. An ambition rooted in our shared values, the connection between our people and, of course, our passion for cricket,” Mr. Sunak said in turn.

“Both leaders also reviewed the progress of Free Trade Agreement negotiations and expressed hope that the remaining issues could be addressed at the earliest so that a balanced, mutually beneficial and forward looking Free Trade Agreement is concluded soon,” an official statement after the talks said.

On the FTA, the U.K. PM’s Office said in a statement that Mr. Sunak reiterated the U.K.’s ambition to “deliver a landmark trade deal which benefits businesses and workers in both countries and grows our trade in both goods and services”.

The statement also said that Mr. Sunak congratulated Mr. Modi on India’s “consummate” Presidency of the G-20 this year, which has demonstrated India’s “vital global leadership and influence”. “The leaders reflected on the close and growing ties between the U.K. and India, exemplified in the ‘living bridge’ between our people. They agreed it was important to build on the past and focus on the future, cementing a modern partnership in cutting-edge defence technology, trade and innovation. They also discussed a number of consular issues,” it added.

Mr. Modi invited Mr. Sunak for a bilateral visit at an early, mutually convenient date for a more detailed discussion, and Mr. Sunak accepted the invitation.

Also read | FTA talks in last lap but hard to set a deadline: U.K.’s Badenoch

India-Italy meeting

On the India-Italy bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, an official statement said that the leaders took stock of the progress in diverse areas of the India-Italy strategic partnership, and agreed to bolster cooperation in areas such as defence, and new and emerging technologies. “They noted the need for G7 and G20 to work in consonance for the greater global good,” it added.

Ms. Meloni was in India on a state visit in March 2023, during which bilateral relations were raised to the level of a Strategic Partnership.

U.K.-Singapore agreement

On the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Mr. Sunak also held a bilateral meeting with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien, and the two countries signed a new strategic partnership agreement to grow the U.K.’s “economy and enhance shared security”.

The agreement will harness the U.K. and Singapore’s expertise in new technologies like cyber security and Artificial Intelligence to create jobs in both countries, a government statement said, adding that the partnership follows agreements with countries, including France, Japan and the U.S., as Prime Minister Sunak uses global relationships to deliver on the U.K.’s priorities.

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