PMs Modi, Sunak agree to work for early conclusion of FTA

New Delhi, March 12 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a “good conversation” with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak on Tuesday and both leaders agreed to work for an early conclusion of a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement.

The telephonic conversation between the two leaders comes as India looks forward to sealing the free trade deal with the UK before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“Had a good conversation with PM @RishiSunak. We reaffirmed our commitment to further strengthen the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and work for early conclusion of a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement,” PM Modi said in a post on X.

They also expressed satisfaction with the progress made under the Roadmap 2030 in diverse areas including trade, investment, defence, security, emerging technologies, and others, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Exchanging views on regional and global developments of mutual interest, the two leaders “assessed positively” the progress made towards the early conclusion of a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement, the statement added.

Both Prime Ministers agreed to remain in touch and exchanged greetings on the upcoming festive occasion of Holi.

The development comes just as India on Sunday inked a landmark agreement with the four-nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in New Delhi to usher in increased trade and investment flows, job creation, and economic growth in the country.

Since 2014, India has signed three such agreements with Mauritius, the UAE, and Australia, and it is also negotiating trade pacts with countries like the UK, Oman, Peru, and Israel.

Last week, UK Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch reportedly suggested that an FTA is possible before elections in India but added that it would be “challenging”.

“We can actually sign an agreement before the Indian election. I suspect that that is not necessarily going to be the case because I don’t want to use any election as a deadline,” Badenoch said during a Global Trade conference at Chatham House in London on Thursday.

Earlier this month, a team of negotiators from the UK was in New Delhi to smooth out the differences during the 14th round of talks on the deal. The 13th round of talks was held on December 15, 2023, with the hope that the 14th round, currently ongoing, will result in a mutually beneficial agreement.

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