Fourth round of UK talks with India on a trade deal with a tight deadline

Thu 26 May 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan is meeting with India’s trade chief Piyush Goyal to try and get the UK-India trade deal over the line by the tight Diwali festival deadline (24 October 2022) set by prime minister Boris Johnson.

The PM is hoping that a deal can be achieved by October that will boost trade with one of the fastest growing economies by £28bn by 2035.

Sticking points include access to the UK for Indian dairy products, India’s high tariffs on alcohol and easier visa access.

Dairy issues

A UK parliamentary report in February said the Indian dairy sector was not permitted to export to the UK due to standardisation and “concern over the uncontrolled use of antibiotics by Indian dairy farmers”.

The vast dairy sector is also predominantly buffalo based, compared to dairy cattle in the UK.

Scotch whisky

The UK wants to cut the 150% tariff on alcohol exports to India to zero withing five years, further opening up a huge market for Scotch whisky.

Data adequacy

India’s data regime poses a barrier to UK services companies as it is not compatible with British privacy safeguards, making cross-border data flows problematic.

However, tech groups published a paper this week setting out how a data adequacy agreement can be struck through a dedicated digital trade chapter.

Julian David, CEO, techUK, which contributed to the Joint Position Paper called Enabling Data Transfers for India-UK Digital Trade, said: “Digital and data services are going to drive the future trading partnership between the UK and India, and it is therefore important that cross-border data flows with an adequate data protection regime are central to future bilateral trade relations.

David added: “The launch of UK-India FTA negotiations offers the opportunity to deepen the bilateral tech partnership and work towards a data adequacy partnership.”

The Indian technology industry is a significant investor in the UK, helping make India the second-largest source of foreign investment in the UK. 

Protectionism

As previously covered in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update, achieving a trade deal with India is considered problematic as the country has a history of protectionism.

However, it recently finalised deals with Australia and the UAE, with a view to a wider deal with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The fourth round of talks is expected to kick off on 13 June.