India, U.K. to hold trade talks on December 12

    Image credit: The Hindu

    On Monday, December 12, 2022, when the sixth round of negotiations between India and the United Kingdom is held here, negotiators from both sides will meet; it will be the first formal meeting between the India-U.K. negotiating teams since July and the first since Rishi Sunak assumed leadership.

    Since Ms. Badenoch joined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration in October last year, this is their first face-to-face encounter. Trade Secretary Badenoch set the agenda for her visit in advance by stating that she would “not discuss hundreds more student visas” for Indians, according to The Telegraph.

    After the July meeting, the trade negotiations ceased to move forward, missing the Diwali deadline set by the late Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In a statement issued here, the British High Commission stated that the UK sought an agreement that would lower tariffs with India and “offer opportunities for UK services such as financial and legal, making it easier for British businesses to sell to an economy likely to be the third largest in the world.”

    Ms. Badenoch is anticipated to speak with Indian company executives to learn about market demands. According to a story in the UK’s Telegraph, Ms. Badenoch referred to “student visas” as “home office problems.” “FTAs frequently become involved in issues that have little to do with trade.” The Trade Secretary was reported in the newspaper as stating, “Making sure we don’t let business negotiations morph into Home Office talks is very crucial for me.”

    When Home Secretary Suella Braverman expressed alarm about Indian students frequently overstaying their visas, the topic became contentious. A plan to permit Indian students with a 3000 degree to remain on for two years was approved by PM Sunak last month.

    India has signed a comprehensive trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates and an economic cooperation and trade agreement with Australia. Similar agreements are also being discussed with the European Union (EU) and other nations.