Published: Mon, July 11, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

India happy about fresh trade talks with UK: Nirmala

India happy about fresh trade talks with UK: Nirmala

Britain begins talks with India today about a bilateral trade deal, the first in a series of visits to key partners around the world following the vote to leave the European Union.

He met Ministers of Finance and Commerce and Industry Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman respectively, in an effort to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with India.

Sitharaman told reporters: "Once the process of informal discussions starts then we get into discussions in detail".

India and the United Kingdom are exploring the possibility of a free trade agreement following Britain's decision to exit from the European Union. She said business outfits like the Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the UK CEOs Forum will now be encouraged to have further interactions with each other.

Sajid Javid, Sitharaman's British counterpart, described the discussion between them as "positive and constructive". Foreign direct investment from India created 7,730 jobs between 2014 and 2015, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, while bilateral trade between the two countries was 16.5 billion pounds past year.

"The Business Secretary has also confirmed that to aid in discussions, the government plans to rapidly build its trade capability up to 300 specialist staff, including new trade negotiators by the end of the year", the statement added.

He is expected to discuss continuing attempts to find a buyer for Tata Steel and the company's pension fund.

While in India, the third biggest foreign investor in the UK, Javid will also discuss the future of Tata Steel UK, a hot topic in the wake of cheap and inferior steel dumping by China.

In FY'16, India's exports to the European Union were $35.35 billion, while India's exports to Britain were $9.35 billion. Advocates of Brexit argue that quitting the bloc would help fuel growth by freeing the ink its own trade deals instead of relying on the 28-member EU.

On its part, Britain is likely to push for more access to India's financial services market.

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