UK-India free trade deal must lower trade barriers and ensure resilient supply chains says CBI and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)

The CBI, Britain’s biggest business organisation, and its counterpart in India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), representing over 300,000 businesses, will set up a new joint group, UK-India Industry Taskforce, to increase cross industry collaboration and to push the UK-India trade deal over the line.

In a recent visit to India the Prime Minister announced a free trade agreement (FTA) is likely to be completed October this year. With negotiations between India-UK government underway a focus on reducing the barriers to trade, cutting tariffs, and supporting firms to export will help consumers and businesses alike particularly in the face of cost-of-living crisis.

The UK’s world-leading renewable sector in particular could play an integral role in India’s transition to clean energy. India has committed to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Reducing tariffs on green exports such as solar, onshore, and offshore wind, could open new opportunities for firms in India.

  • More broadly, securing a free trade agreement with India could almost double UK exports to India.
  • Boost Britain’s total trade by as much as £28 billion a year by 2035 and increase wages across the UK regions by £3 billion

As part of a Memorandum in Understanding (MoU) between the CBI and CII, the group will provide a critical forum for discussion to ensure an FTA works to the benefit of businesses in both countries. The group will provide continual oversight and meet ahead of key milestones to take views on trade-offs, breakdown barriers to market access and help feed in on-the-ground business intelligence at a ministerial level in India and UK.

Welcoming the new Commission announcement, CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria, said:

“A free trade agreement with the world’s fastest growing economy is now within touching distance, and to clinch that deal a focus on lowering barriers to trade is now essential.

“For example, on renewables, we have an opportunity to export UK’s expertise in clean tech. A deal has the potential to drastically lower tariffs on wind turbines parts that are currently as high as 15 per cent.

“More broadly, a deal anchored in slashing tariffs, improving the ability to move talent across borders as well as data, will unlock plenty of prizes across a host of sectors from services and life sciences to tech and innovation.

“I look forward to working with CII on this new taskforce to strengthen our ties across trade, investment, climate and health as our countries recover from the twin shock of Covid and the Ukraine crisis.”

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said:

“The Memorandum of Understanding we sign today is the continuation of the long standing relationship between CII and CBI. This partnership is an opportunity to address shared concerns, identify common interests and foster greater understanding and to develop capacity to address the issues of economic and global concerns.

“The collaboration between CII and CBI will cover joint efforts in specific areas such as Advancing Technology and Digitalization, Climate Change & Sustainability, Multilateral collaboration, alignment on FTA and education. As we build upon this renewed partnership today we are eager and excited to be working together with a  focused approach”

Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, said“I’m delighted that leading business communities from the UK and India are deepening collaboration on sustainability, education and technology. Our Prime Ministers have committed to reaching a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement this year that increases prosperity and opportunity for both nations and peoples – and businesses are essential to realising that ambition.”

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