Insight Online News
New Delhi/London, Apr 10 : India has “disengaged” from the trade talks with the UK over Britain’s failure to condemn pro-Khalistani activists who vandalised the Indian High Commission last month, reports said.
According to The Times and Bloomberg, the Indian government has made it clear to the UK that there would be no progress in the FTA negotiations without a public condemnation of the Khalistan movement.
While, the UK government had condemned the March 19 attack on the Indian High Commission, the Indian government wants it to publicly condemn the Khalistani group, the reports said.
Senior British government sources are quoted as saying that the Indian government has “disengaged” from trade talks and made it clear that there would be no progress without a public condemnation of the Khalistan movement.
On March 19, late on Sunday evening, India had summoned the senior-most UK diplomat in New Delhi to convey its strong protest after some Khalistani activists had removed the Indian flag from outside the Indian High Commission in London.
India had also demanded an explanation for the complete absence of British security that allowed the Khalistani elements to enter the Indian High Commission premises.
In a statement, India had said it finds “unacceptable the indifference of the UK Government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK”.
India also demanded that the perpetrators be immediately arrested and prosecuted and stringent measures be put in place to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Videos on social media showed a group of Khalistani supporters shout pro-Khalistan slogans, and one person clambering on the verandah of the Indian High Commission and removing the Indian flag, to cheering and shouting of Khalistani slogans by the crowd.
The India-UK FTA was progressing well. The two sides had concluded the seventh round of the free trade agreement (FTA) talks in February, and the eighth round of FTA negotiations were due from March 20-24 in hybrid mode.
In the February talks, technical discussions were held across 11 policy areas over 43 separate sessions. They included detailed draft treaty text discussions in these policy areas.
The February session was conducted in hybrid fashion, with a number of Indian officials travelling to London for negotiations and others attending virtually.
The India-UK FTA negotiations cover 26 policy areas. The negotiators had closed discussions on 13 of them, and the trade ministers of both sides had met in December 2022, and January this year to take stock of the progress.
India accounts for 1.7 percent of total UK exports and India was the 12th largest export market for the UK in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022.
The UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch also expressed optimism about business and export trade prospects with India, saying: “India’s growing economy and middle class represent an enormous opportunity for enterprising UK companies looking for new markets.”
Key issues for India-UK FTA negotiators include liquor, automobiles, intellectual property, and mobility of students and professionals.