The countries agreed to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement including an interim trade pact for delivering early gains
India and the UK on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious 10-year roadmap to boost cooperation in key areas, including defence, security and healthcare, and announced an enhanced trade partnership under which they agreed to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA including an interim trade pact for delivering early gains.
The decisions were taken at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the two leaders agreed to expand partnership on coronavirus “vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics on COVID 19 and beyond through joint research including on nasal vaccines.”
When asked at a media briefing whether the extradition of Indian fugitives –Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi– to face trial in India figured in the talks, Joint Secretary in the Europe West division in the MEA Sandeep Chakravorty said extradition of economic offenders was discussed.
He said Modi mentioned that economic offenders should be sent back to India at the earliest for a trial.
On the overall outcome, Chakravorty said though it was a virtual summit, the talks set a new milestone, and in many ways, has “opened a new chapter” in bilateral relations in terms of substance and outcomes.
He said both sides agreed to substantially strengthen defence and security ties including in the domains of maritime security, counter-terrorism and cyberspace.
Chakravorty said there was also some discussion on co-production and co-development of defence items.
On vaccine cooperation, he said Johnson did inform Modi that Serum Institute of India is investing in the UK and it will be manufacturing vaccines in that country.
The MEA official said the five key areas identified under the ‘roadmap 2030’ to boost cooperation are people-to-people ties, trade, defence and security, climate and health
He also termed as “big-ticket announcement” the declaration of enhanced trade partnership.
According to a statement from Johnson’s office,”more than 6,500 new jobs will be created around the UK thanks to the one billion pounds of new UK-India trade and investment announced by the Prime Minister today.”
The package contains over 533 million pounds of new Indian investment into the UK, which is expected to create more than 6,000 jobs in vital and growing sectors such as health and technology, Downing Street said.
This includes a GBP 240 million investment by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in the UK into its vaccine business and a new sales office in the country, expected to generate new business worth over $1 billion, it added.
Johnson was scheduled to visit India late last month. But days before the visit, he called it off in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
In January too, Johnson’s planned trip to India to participate in the Republic Day parade as the chief guest was cancelled following a surge in COVID-19 infections in the UK.
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and British Home Secretary Priti Paten signed a migration and mobility partnership agreement.
Jaishankar is currently on a four-day visit to the UK to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of G7 countries.
“A fruitful meeting this morning with Home Secretary @pritipatel. Signed the Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement that would facilitate legal travel and encourage talent flows. The living bridge between India and the UK will get stronger as a result,” he tweeted.