India-UK FTA: Scotch whiskey, EV, services issues may figure in 14th round of talks in Jan

New Delhi: Issues like duty concessions on scotch whisky and electric vehicle (EV) and matters concerning the services sector, including mobility of skilled workers, may figure in the next round of proposed FTA talks between India and the UK in January, an official has said. The official also said that both sides have resolved most of the issues in the rules of origin and intellectual property rights (IPRs) chapters.

There are 26 chapters in the agreement, including goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights.

Though the negotiations between the two countries have reached their last leg, both sides have yet to resolve differences on major issues like British demand for significant customs duty concessions on scotch whisky, and EVs and liberalisation of norms in services sectors like banking, insurance, legal, and Indian demand for easy movement of professionals, the official added.

The two countries have concluded 13 rounds of talks, and the next round is scheduled in January 2024.

The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals in sectors like IT and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods, such as textiles and leather, at nil customs duties.

On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods like scotch whiskey, automobiles (including EVs), lamb meat, chocolates and certain confectionary items. Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in Indian markets in segments like telecommunications and financial services. “Some 3-4 issues are also pending in the proposed bilateral investment treaty (BIT),” the official, who did not wish to be named, said.

India and the UK launched the talks for a free-trade agreement (FTA) in January 2022.

The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22.

Further, the official said talks are also progressing on proposed trade agreements with Oman and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) bloc.

India and the EFTA bloc ( Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) are negotiating a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) to boost economic ties.



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