Prime minister Rishi Sunak has used his Bali G20 summit appearance to reboot India-UK trade talks, placing an emphasis on quality over speed.
Sunak has hinted he will slow down progress on the India trade deal which his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss had hoped would be completed by Diwali last month.
The PM met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today (16 October) and is understood to want to improve terms for the UK services sector through the deal, the Guardian reports.
Yesterday (15 October), Sunak gave the go-ahead for 3,000 visas for young Indian professionals to work in the UK each year.
According to the Independent, the move is an olive branch to New Delhi, after the Indian government put plans for an agreement on ice in response to home secretary Suella Braverman’s recent comments about overstaying Indian migrants.
Following talks with Modi, Sunak indicated he did not expect a swift conclusion of trade talks and “wouldn’t sacrifice quality for speed”.
‘Robust’ India-UK ties
“I think the India trade deal is obviously a fantastic opportunity for the UK and I talked to prime minister Modi about it when we spoke and no doubt we’ll be talking about it again when we meet this week,” he added.
The Times of India reports that Sunak said that there was excitement about India taking over the G20 presidency from Indonesia and that the UK remained “committed to a trade deal with India, but we need to get these things right”.
After the meeting, Modi tweeted that “India attaches great importance to robust India-UK ties”.
US reaffirms alliance
Also in Bali, Joe Biden called Britain the US’ closest ally and friend, during his first face-to-face meeting with Sunak since he became PM, reports Reuters.
Sunak replied that the US remained “our closest ally, biggest trading partner, closest security partner” and that together they would focus on Ukraine, tackling climate change and stabilising the global economy.
A Downing Street spokesperson added: “The leaders looked forward to working together to take forward cooperation between the UK and the US on areas including trade, defence and upholding the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”
UK-US trade deal
Britain’s hopes of a trade deal with the US have stalled, with the impasse on negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol between the UK and EU representing a sticking point for Biden.
However, Sunak has told Biden he will reach a deal with the EU on Northern Ireland by April, according to The Times.
China talks cancelled
The BBC reports that a planned G20 meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping has been cancelled after a missile blast in Poland.
The encounter was due to be the first in-person meeting between a British PM and Jinping since 2018, against a backdrop of worsening relations between London and Beijing over security, Hong Kong and human rights.