Sorting by


Rishi Sunak won’t ‘rush into’ India free trade deal despite Delhi pushing for a quick slimmed down agreement

The UK will not “rush” a post-Brexit free trade deal with India despite Narendra Modi’s desire to strike a slimmed down agreement ahead of Indian elections in 2024, Rishi Sunak has insisted.

Mr Modi, the Indian prime minister, is understood to be pushing to “bounce” the UK into a rapid lighter agreement ahead of his own elections next year to send a message about India’s global power under his leadership.

This could mean a smaller deal including tariff reductions with some services access, while putting off complex negotiations on issues like social security payments by Indian temporary workers in the UK until a later date, according to Politico which first reported Mr Modi’s desire for a slimmed down deal.

But Mr Sunak insisted he wants a “comprehensive” deal and vowed to “keep going” in pursuit of a good deal, ahead of bilateral talks with Mr Modi on the margins of the G20 summit in Delhi on Saturday.

A Government source meanwhile told i the negotiations were about “the deal not the date”.

Speaking to broadcasters at the British Council in New Delhi, the Prime Minister said: “First thing says that India is going to be one of the most important countries over the coming years and decades and it’s vital that the UK has a close relationship with India, particularly a close economic relationship.

“But when it comes to trade deals, I always said that it would be good to have an ambitious and comprehensive trade deal with India for all those reasons, but we can’t rush it and I won’t rush it.

“I’ve always said I want to take the time to get trade deals right so that they work for the British people, they work for the UK and lots of progress has been made on this one, but we’re not there yet.

“So we’ve got to keep going.”

Mr Sunak added that he would not put an “arbitrary deadline” on negotiations, pointing out that he has successfully concluded international negotiations on the the Windsor Framework post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland and the Horizon science and research programme since entering Downing Street.

“On all of these things, just like Horizon, I’ve taken the time to get them right,” he said.

“I won’t rush them. I don’t put arbitrary deadlines on these things because I want to make sure that they work for the British people and they work for the UK. I’ve got a track record of delivering. But I won’t rush things for the sake of it until they’re right for us.”

Downing Street has already made it clear that the Prime Minister will not liberalise visas for Indian citizens in an attempt to get a deal over the line.

Mr Sunak refused to comment on whether he could accede to any Indian demands to exempt temporary workers from the country from paying national insurance in the UK, which would cost £500m, as they are not able to access the same public services as British citizens.

Such a move would bring India into line with exemptions given to US and Canadian citizens.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak said he hoped the UK rejoining the EU’s Horizon science programme shows the country now has a “constructive” relationship with Brussels that could pave the way for a deal to delay potentially damaging post-Brexit tariffs on electric cars.

As well as Horizon, ministers have been lobbying the EU to delay the introduction of so-called “rules of origin” for electric vehicle batteries, due to come into force in January 2024 under the Brexit trade deal, which could add 10 per cent tariffs to car imports and exports.

Mr Sunak suggested he hoped the improved relationship with Brussels could help ministers secure a delay that has been demanded by both UK and European car manufacturers, with the EU thought to be split on enforcing the rules on time.

However, he refused to say he would raise the issue with EU counterparts attending the G20 summit in India.

On the plane to the gathering in New Delhi, Mr Sunak told reporters on the Horizon deal: “Today was a great day and it demonstrates that our relationship with our European partners is positive, it’s constructive.

“I can get things done for the interests of the UK and that’s what we’ll continue to do – whether it’s on Horizon, whether it’s on cooperation on illegal migration, which we’ve already talked about, or whether it’s on having a dialogue on this issue.”

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button