Will only agree to FTA that works for UK: Rishi Sunak on trade deal with India

Rishi Sunak. Photo: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

London: The free trade agreement (FTA) talks with India are progressing and Britain will only agree to a pact that works for the whole of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told his ministers.

Ahead of his first visit to India as UK Prime Minister to attend the G20 World Leaders' Summit in New Delhi later this week, Sunak updated his top team on the ongoing trade talks, which have completed 12 rounds of negotiations, during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The British Indian leader described India as an indispensable partner of the UK across all spheres of bilateral cooperation, which he is keen to strengthen further.

He said negotiations around a free trade deal were progressing and that he would only agree to an approach which worked for the whole of the UK, notes a Downing Street readout of the Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister said India was an indispensable partner of the UK, both economically and in addressing the global challenges all democracies are facing. He said we must now strengthen the UK-India relationship, it said.

UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who has returned from a visit to India after talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal last month, also updated the UK Cabinet on the FTA negotiations, saying that India is already one of the UK's largest trading partners, with a relationship worth GBP 36 billion a year.

The Prime Minister concluded Cabinet by setting out his desire to use our growing relationship in trade, defence, and technology to build a lasting and deep partnership with India which benefits the people of the UK for decades to come, Downing Street said.

The 43-year-old leader is expected to receive a grand welcome when he arrives in New Delhi, with bilateral talks expected with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the course of his stay.

While the details of the visit are yet to be confirmed by Downing Street, some UK media reports have indicated that a sightseeing visit to Humayan's Tomb is expected to be on the agenda for Sunak and wife Akshata Murty.

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