NEW DELHI, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Britain prioritizes reaching a free trade deal with India, its foreign minister told Reuters on Saturday during his first visit to the country, but declined to give a new deadline after missing one this month.
James Cleverly said after a meeting with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar in New Delhi that ties between the two countries would improve further under Rishi Sunak, who this week became Britain’s first Indian-origin prime minister.
“I had a great opportunity to talk about incredibly important global issues, but also to talk about the strength of our bilateral partnership and about our plans to work more closely with India,” Cleverly said in an interview with the House of Commons. magistrate.
He declined to say what stood in the way of the trade deal, which both Sunak’s predecessors in several months in British politics, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, had hoped would be signed by the Diwali holiday on Monday.
Cleverly also declined to say whether it could be completed this year.
“But it is an important deal for us and one that we are really prioritizing and that we will continue to make sure that our officials and ministers regularly talk about and work hard to deliver,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of work. And it’s incredibly important that we remember that a large-scale free trade agreement like the one we’re negotiating, it’s never going to be simple, but it’s an incredibly important tool to build on our already strong relationship and make that really future-oriented.”
The previous points of contention included a high import duty on British whiskey for sale in India. New Delhi also wants to facilitate UK visas for Indians.
Smart said “we want to make sure that our visa process is quick and easy, convenient”.
The countries want to double bilateral trade by 2030, from more than $31 billion now.
Asked about the G7’s plan to cap Russian oil prices and its bid to get countries like India to agree, Cleverly said Britain would not dictate New Delhi’s foreign policy. India and Russia have close defense ties, and India has become a major buyer of Russian oil since the start of the Ukraine war.
“I don’t think it would be right for me as a British politician to dictate policy to another country,” he said.
Editing by Alison Williams
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