UK and India Launch Trade Talks

The U.K. and India will formally launch free trade negotiations on Thursday as the two countries seeks a deal that could boost trade by billions of pounds.

Indian trade minister Piyush Goyal will meet his British counterpart Anne-Marie Trevelyan in New Delhi, with the first round of negotiations to begin next week, according to the U.K. government.

“A deal with India is a golden opportunity to put U.K. businesses at the front of the queue as the Indian economy continues to grow rapidly,” Trevelyan said in a statement.

The U.K. is seeking to tap into India’s market — which Trevelyan noted will have about 250 million middle class consumers by 2050 — to sell premium British products like Scotch Whisky, open up its green technology industry, and expand routes for service sectors.

Meanwhile, India is seeking make living and working in Britain easier for Indians, making the potential trade deal likely to relax rules and lower fees for Indian students and professionals going to the U.K.

The U.K. government said in a statement that the deal could almost double British exports to India and boost bilateral trade by as much as £28 billion ($38 billion) a year by 2035, and increase wages across the UK by up to £3 billion.

A bilateral trade agreement would also “be a big step forward in the U.K.’s strategy to refocus trade on the Indo-Pacific, home to half of the world’s population and 50 percent of global economic growth.”

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