With India and the UK already sharing strong trade ties, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated he was ready to offer more visas to India in return for this year clinching a free-trade deal that could boost annual bilateral trade by billions of pounds, according to Reuters report.
This development comes in the wake of India’s insistence on greater opportunities for Indians to live and work in Britain. It is worth noting that any trade deal will likely be contingent on relaxing rules and lowering of fees for Indian students and professionals going to the country.
In an attempt to hail a “new era” in bilateral trade and investment ties during his visit to India, the UK High Commission said on Thursday. It said the UK and Indian businesses will confirm more than one billion pounds ((1 GBP= ₹99.63) in new investments and export deals in areas from software engineering to health, creating almost 11,000 jobs across the UK, according to news agency PTI report.
Additionally, Johnson will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday after concluding his engagements in Gujarat on Thursday. The two leaders are expected to discuss extensively to expand ties in various key sectors including defence and trade besides exchanging views on the crisis in Ukraine.
The high commission notified that Johnson will use his visit to India to “boost our collaboration with one of the world’s fastest growing economies, slashing trade barriers for UK businesses and driving jobs and growth at home.”
Earlier, while speaking on the plane on his way to India, Johnson was quoted saying, “I have always been in favour of talented people coming to this country,” Johnson told reporters. “We are short to the tune of hundreds of thousands of people in our economy and we need to have a progressive approach and we will.”
Interestingly, Britain has made getting a trade deal with India one of its post-Brexit priorities as ministers, free from the European Union’s common trade policy, look to gear policy towards faster-growing economies around the Indo-Pacific region.
UK PM Boris Johnson in Gujarat today:
The British prime minister, during his visit in Gujarat which began today, is scheduled to visit a new factory being opened by a top British firm as well as a biotechnology university working in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.
The new investments worth one billion pounds will include setting up of a new Switch Mobility electric bus R&D centre in the UK and the opening of their Asia Pacific headquarters in Chennai.
The new initiatives also include Indian firm Bharat Forge and electric truck maker Tevva Motors expanding to a new site in the south-east and creating 500 new jobs and Indian software company Mastek investing 79 million pounds to create 1600 jobs over the next three years all over the UK, according to the high commission.
It said the new investments will also include business consultancy FirstSource opening new offices in South Wales, the Midlands and cities in the North-East and North-West and Hertfordshire-based firm Smith & Nephew agreeing to a major export deal to sell robotic surgical systems in India.
The India-UK relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the India-UK virtual summit held between Modi and Johnson in May last year.
(With inputs from agencies)