INDO-UK FTA can Help Achieve Aatmanirbhar Bharat: UKIBC Report

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The UK India Business Council has today launched its report ‘Road to a UK-India Free Trade Agreement: Enhancing the Partnership and achieving Self-Reliance‘.

The report has been launched at the time, when Prime Minister Modi’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India campaign) is driving economic reform, and when the UK and Indian Governments have not only agreed an Enhanced Trade Partnership but have committed to start FTA negotiations by the end of 2021 with the goal of doubling trade by 2030.

The “Road to a UK-India Free Trade Agreement” report sets out how a comprehensive UK-India FTA should accelerate self-reliance and why international investors’ perceptions of Aatmanirbhar Bharat should be wholly positive.

77% of UK companies surveyed by the UKIBC stated that Aatmanirbhar Bharat is an opportunity for them to do more business with India. A minority of businesses did however view the policy as protectionist at a time when open economies are critical to growing trade and investment flows.

Commenting on the report, UKIBC Chair, Richard Heald said, “This report is important, and we are pleased to release it at what is an extremely exciting period for the UK-India bilateral relationship. Our Governments’ commitment can help business to plug into and support Aatmanirbhar Bharat, or Self-Reliant India, via the roadmap to the FTA. We, at the UKIBC, believe that greater cooperation and collaboration between our two countries will help India to achieve self-reliance and the UK gain a strong and sustainable economic relationship with India. A real win-win”.

UKIBC encourages all interested parties to read this report, consider it, and revert with comments, criticism and views so we can make the dialogue with India at this critical time as constructive as possible.

The report includes five recommendations that the UKIBC believe would support the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign’s success and deliver the objectives of the Enhanced Trade Partnership and FTA. They include a sharp focus on innovation and on digital and data sectors, and an assertion that while self-reliance is pragmatic, especially in a post-pandemic world, India should remain open to free and fair trade. The report also stresses that India’s State governments are critical so, in attracting investment, the states and the centre have important roles to play in enacting strategic policy reforms.

UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole added, “India, in its self-reliant campaign, is aiming to play a greater role in manufacturing supply chains. This is the right ambition, and certainly plays to India’s strengths. To succeed, I think India will need to be an import as well as an export hub as components flow from all over the world. So, keeping tariffs and other barriers to entry low or, indeed, removing them, will really help India to achieve its objective.”

“This report looks at a range of sectors, examining how the self-reliant India campaign can evolve and succeed. It is important that openness is maintained between the UK and India if the Enhanced Trade Partnership is going to meet the commitment made by Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson on 4th May to double bilateral trade by 2030.”

The report is available free on the UKIBC website.

About UKIBC

The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) is the premier membership-led organisation supporting the promotion of trade, business and investment between the two countries. UKIBC plays an influential role in creating and sustaining an environment in which trade and investment flourishes. Through its insights, networks, policy advocacy, services and facilities, the UK India Business Council supports UK businesses to achieve success. Find out more by visiting www.ukibc.com and following @UKIBC on Twitter.

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