Having recently concluded two important and significant trade deals with UAE and Australia, India is in discussions with few other countries for similar type of pacts.
An important FTA that is currently in the making is with United Kingdom which is being worked upon with a keen sense of urgency. Both the Prime Ministers have asked their respective negotiators to get it completed by as early as this Diwali.
The UK-India bilateral trade is said to have totalled over £18 billion in 2020 and surpassed £21.5 billion in 2021.
‘Now that the UK can create its own trade policies, it is critically important that we develop a new FTA with India. It is a priority for the British government the PM and our team’ said Mr. Alan Gemmell, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for South Asia speaking exclusively to Vizag Industrial Scan.
Mr Gemmell who also happens to be the British’s Deputy High commissioner to Western India was joined by Mr. Andrem Fleming, British’s Deputy High commissioner to AP and Telangana for the interview wherein they elaborated on the fast evolving UK-India trade relations, key sectors for investments and the opportunities they present.
Edited Excerpts below.
We have been hearing of a possible FTA with Britain some time later this year. Could you elaborate on the proposed FTA and what this would entail for India-Britain trade going forward?
Alan Gemmell: Now that the UK can create its own trade policies, it is critically important that we develop a new free trade agreement with India. I must tell you that this is a priority for the British government the PM and our team. This is also because there are significant strengths in the UK-India trade and this FTA would only further enhance this.
Already significant announcements have been made by both the Prime Ministers in terms of investments and job creation last year in the virtual summit and also during the recent visit of our Prime Minister Mr Boris Johnson to India.
Negotiators are currently working on the FTA. And I can tell you that we want to have a comprehensive and ambitious FTA with India. We hope to have it done by Diwali this year.
What are some of the key sectors for investments between the two nations?
Alan Gemmell: Albeit there are a range of potential sectors, just in the last few years or so we have seen tremendous opportunities in both Tech and Healthcare. Almost all Indian tech companies operating in the UK have increased their presence in UK and have significantly increased employment there.
Healthcare can play a very significant role in our partnership. Just to give you an example in healthcare, a British robotics surgery company has announced a 200 million pounds export deal i.e. to bring their technology to India. I therefore believe there are big opportunities for UK to support the on-going Innovation in the Indian healthcare eco-system. There are about 43000 people in British health service of Indian origin. We would want to see more British healthcare business come here.
Similarly green energy and EV transitions are a key sector. There are a number of British companies looking to take up opportunities in the EV space in India. A 217 million pounds investment was done in the state of Maharashtra to develop EV batteries and allied.
How important is India’s Defence Sector for UK?
Alan Gemmell: We absolutely want to grow and develop our market share in the defence sector in India. There is a big opportunity for the UK-India defence relationship. There are British businesses that can make in India and partner with companies here.
Coming to the state of Andhra Pradesh, what according to you are some key areas of partnership here?
Andrew Fleming: To my mind Agritech and Food processing are big areas of opportunity for the state of Andhra Pradesh. Similarly there are many shrimp factories in and around this region, so shrimp exports to UK is another area of tremendous opportunity.
And in terms of manufacturing I believe Sri City to have a well-established ecosystem. We have 8 British companies employing 2000 people in Sri City. We thus would certainly want to highlight Sri City and what it has to offer British companies.