Doubling the trade by 2030

Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi to give an impetus to ongoing India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Narendra Modi during a meeting in 2017. [File]
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Narendra Modi during a meeting in 2017. [File]Flickr

Gujarat acted as a gateway for Narendra Modi to attain top slot in the Indian politics after his successful inning as chief minister for 12 years and 227 days.

Now British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson embarks upon two day visit to India on April 21 and 22nd and preferring Ahmadabad as first stop over to make a big announcement about investment to implement Post Brexit strategy and neutralising Pandemic impact which may be possible by utilising ‘Modi Effect’ on over 6,00,000 Gujaratis, mostly rich, who form a part of Indian Diaspora in United Kingdom.

The Indians contribute 6 percent of the UK’s GDP. Recently, Liz Truss, British Foreign Secretary had stated that “India’s politics” is, in some sense, “Britain’s politics” because of the Indian Diaspora in the United Kingdom (UK) which reflects the relevance and logistics of these residents in this country and equating to almost 1.8% of Britain’s population.

Indian Diaspora-owned companies with a combined revenue of 36.84 billion pounds employ over 1,74,000 people and pay over 1 billion pounds in Corporation Tax which forms one of the pillars of the foundation of close binds of two nations. Johnson’s visit will further cement these bonds which is good for both nations.

While in Ahmadabad, Johnson is scheduled to meet with leading businesses and discuss the UK and India’s booming commercial, and other links with his country. Observers feel that it seems to be a well thought strategy to choose Gujarat, India’s fifth largest state, because it is linked with an emotional connect of being the ancestral home of significant numbers of the British-Indian Diaspora in the UK.

Prior to crucial visit which has been postponed thrice owing to outbreak of Covid19, UK PM reacted in a enthusiastic manner when he said, “my visit to India will focus on job creation and economic growth. It will also deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations to deepen the long-term partnership between our countries.

As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world's largest democracy …. is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times.” As Post- Brexit strategy, Downing Street observations are very important and Johnson is expected to make major announcement about the investment in Gujarat, thereby boosting the growth through new collaborations on cutting-edge science, health, and technology.

The new strategy lays emphasis on UK’s assessment arising from trade opportunities with India’s growing economy to check prices in key commodities for consumers including besides providing the opportunities to UK businessmen in areas like skilled jobs in various sectors, green technology services in related fields and enhancing the wages.

As per official figures, Indian companies have provided 95,000 jobs across UK which might be enhanced after finalisation of future trade deal and upcoming investment announcements. Johnson and Modi will hold will hold in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defense, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering our close partnership and stepping up security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific.

Analysts opine that Johnson will push for progress in talks on a free trade deal and Britain is hoping to strike this deal as part of its action plan to face the post-Brexit situation in the country.

Johnson feels that such a trade deal with India has got vast potential to boost Britain's total trade up to 28 billion pounds ($36.5 billion) annually by 2035, which will be possible through Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations moving into third round later this month and it may enhance the income across UK by £3 billion ($3.9 billion).

Experts believe that Britain has appreciated India’s neutral stance on Ukraine and its efforts to persuade both warring nations to opt for peaceful and diplomatic means, thereby keeping its nation’s interest supreme besides preserving sovereignty.

The future UK-India relations could be based on closer defense ties which give priority to technology transfer and utilization of ‘Make in India’ initiative, and it could become a reality despite the age old defense relations of India with Russia.

The UK has been trying to persuade India to reduce its reliance on Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine but latter has always made efforts to convince the former that close ties with Russia cannot be sacrificed on the basis of short term gains.

British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss had visited India last month to convince India to impose sanctions on Russia and prepared ground for Johnson’ trip. India did condemn killings in Bucha but it refrained from directly criticising Russia since it invaded Ukraine on 24 February and did not condemn the invasion when voting was held on this issue in United Nations.

Other important agenda pertains to regional matters including the turmoil in Afghanistan and the UK's Indo-Pacific tilt which will be discussed between two sides during this important visit to evolve consensus. Johnson and Modi will take forward the agreements signed by them last year which pertained to common UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership thereby announcing investment of 530 million pounds ($692 million) into the UK besides committing a deeper bilateral ties in health, climate, trade, security and defense.

It may be recalled that Modi and Johnson had met in person on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, 2021 during the World Leaders' Summit when their dialogue had focused on the India-UK climate partnership as well as a review of the 2030 Roadmap which had been signed by them during a virtual summit in May 2021.

The Roadmap aims at doubling the bilateral trade between India and UK by 2030 as both nations are natural partners in moving ahead to fulfill this revolutionary step and achieve the desired results.

(K.S.TOMAR is national columnist and political analyst)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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