India-UK FTA First Step In Continually Evolving Trade, Economic Relations: UK Foreign Secretary

New Delhi: The United Kingdom has expressed its willingness to achieve the set ambitious goal of having the India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) completed by Diwali. UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said new British Prime Minister Liz Truss wants her administration to “match the pace and ambition” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Cleverly said that India and the UK have a longstanding and wide-ranging bilateral relationship, which is both a “huge plus” and a sign that “it is quite understandable that there is a desire to have a very, very wide-ranging, meaningful free trade agreement.”

While talking to PTI on the margins of the UN General Assembly session, Cleverly said: “We want to make sure that the deal that we do, ideally by Diwali, is the first step in a continually evolving trade and economic relationship with India. So, there’s a lot to do and not a lot of time. He (Modi) is a very high-energy political leader. He’s very, very ambitious. He’s ambitious for India as a country, he is ambitious for our relationship with India and all this is incredibly positive. Our Prime Minister (Truss), I know because we’ve had this discussion, she wants us to match the pace and ambition of your Prime Minister. And that means the other ministers and the officials are going to have to work really hard and really fast.”

He further added that “we need to continue discussing things like climate change, the impact on food security and of course, our joint efforts to bring resolution to the various conflicts around the world, including, of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” 

India and the UK formally began negotiations for a free trade deal in January. They have set Diwali as the deadline for reaching an agreement. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on October 24.

(With inputs from PTI)