Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today. PM Modi and his British counterpart discussed the need to close a balanced free-trade deal between India and the UK soon.
“Glad to speak to Rishi Sunak today. Congratulated him on assuming charge as UK PM. We will work together to further strengthen our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We also agreed on the importance of early conclusion of a comprehensive and balanced FTA,” PM Modi tweeted this evening, referring to the talks for a free-trade agreement, or FTA.
Glad to speak to @RishiSunak today. Congratulated him on assuming charge as UK PM. We will work together to further strengthen our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We also agreed on the importance of early conclusion of a comprehensive and balanced FTA.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 27, 2022
Mr Sunak tweeted a “thank you” and tagged PM Modi.
“Thank you Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your kind words as I get started in my new role. The UK and India share so much. I’m excited about what our two great democracies can achieve as we deepen our security, defence and economic partnership in the months and years ahead,” tweeted the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of Britain and the youngest leader to hold the top post in the UK in over 200 years.
Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your kind words as I get started in my new role.
The UK and India share so much. I’m excited about what our two great democracies can achieve as we deepen our security, defence and economic partnership in the months & years ahead. pic.twitter.com/Ly60ezbDPg
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 27, 2022
Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is also coming to India on Friday to hold talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The two will discuss strengthening diplomatic ties, Britain’s Foreign Office said today.
Britain has completed the majority of sections of the free-trade agreement with India but will only sign off on the deal once happy that it is fair and reciprocal, Trade Department Minister Greg Hands said yesterday.
“We have already closed the majority of chapters and look forward to the next round of talks shortly,” Mr Hands told parliament. The government had previously said it wanted to complete the deal by Diwali, a deadline which passed earlier this week.
The UK’s controversial Home Secretary Suella Braverman, an Indian-origin leader and hardline Brexiteer who had opposed a more generous visa policy for immigrants, has come out in support of the India-Britain FTA in what is being seen as an attempt to defuse tensions over her policy stance.
Ms Braverman had earlier expressed “reservations” about the UK’s trade deal with India. In an interview, she said she feared the deal would increase migration to the UK, when Indians already represented the largest group of visa overstayers.
At a Diwali event organised by the India Global Forum in London on Tuesday, Ms Braverman said the UK has been “profoundly enriched by immigration from India” – the group she called “visa overstayers”.
“Naturally, there is an economic imperative for our countries to work together, which is why we are so eager to secure a trade deal,” said Ms Braverman, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
India and the UK aim to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion by the end of this decade.