India and Britain started discussions on a post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday with London holding out for a cut in tariffs on Scotch Whisky and more access to India’s services and tech sectors.
In return, India wants to make it easier and cheaper for Indians to obtain British visas. A target of doubling bilateral trade volumes by 2030 was reiterated in a joint statement released by Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and British Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan after the formal launch of the talks.
Mr. Goyal told reporters, “Both sides have agreed that we will focus initially on areas which are of mutual benefit and where there is less disagreement, and for which we have set a very aggressive timeline of next few months”.
“We feel confident that there is so much complementarity between the two economies that we should easily be able to come up with a very substantive agreement in the initial phase… I think we are committed to concluding this negotiation in about a year’s time,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement said, “The UK has world-class businesses and expertise we can rightly be proud of, from Scotch whisky distillers to financial services and cutting-edge renewable technology”.
He added, “We are seizing the opportunities offered in growing economies of the Indo-Pacific to cement our place on the global stage and deliver jobs and growth at home”.
Notably, Britain has already struck trade deals with Japan, New Zealand, and Australia in an attempt to compensate for falling trade volumes with the European Union since it left in January 2020.
Meanwhile, India’s attempt to ease granting UK visas for Indian nationals may meet with opposition from Brexit supporters who were keen to cut down on immigration.