London, Sep 3: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ruled out a quick-fix trade deal with India, making it impossible to get an agreement over the line in time for this week’s G20 summit in Delhi – and possibly even by next year’s elections, the media reported.
Multiple sources close to the negotiations have told The Guardian the UK prime minister has rejected the idea of an “early harvest” deal, which could have lowered tariffs on goods such as whisky but would not have dealt with trickier subjects such as professional services.
The decision has scuppered any chance of an agreement being struck this week, before the prime minister meets his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in the Indian capital this weekend.
Many now believe a deal is impossible before both countries hold elections in 2024, although some in government still believe it could be reached later this year, The Guardian reported.
It means the prospect of a UK-India free trade agreement, long held up as one of the biggest possible opportunities for Britain after Brexit, remains distant.
One government source said: “There was talk last year of a deal by last Diwali, but that was only going to happen if it was a shallow deal based around a limited number of goods. Kemi Badenoch (the trade secretary) and Rishi Sunak have decided they don’t want to go down that route and so have taken a deadline off the table.”
Another person close to the negotiations added: “India wants to do an early agreement on goods, but the risk is that instead of being the start of a wider trade agreement, that becomes the end point and the UK doesn’t get any of the more fundamental things it wants.”