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Trade secretary tries to kick-start post-Brexit deal with India on Delhi trip

Trade secretary tries to kick-start post-Brexit deal with India on Delhi trip
Anne-Marie Trevelyan hoping to land ‘ambitious’ trade agreement after failure to get Delhi interested in 2021

Boris Johnson’s international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has flown out to Delhi to launch negotiations on a potential post-Brexi trade deal with India.

The cabinet minister is hoping to land an “ambitious” free trade agreement with the country – despite the government’s failure to get the Indian government interested in a full-fledged deal.

Efforts to get a speedy, comprehensive post-Brexit agreement with India were thwarted last year when the country agreed to only an “enhanced partnership” on health, technology and vaccine development.

Ms Trevelyan said the talks beginning on Thursday were “a golden opportunity to put UK businesses at the front of the queue as the Indian economy continues to grow rapidly”.

The trade secretary claimed a free trade agreement with India would “show how the deals we negotiate will boost the economies across all nations and help level up all regions of the UK”.

But the Best for Britain campaign group has said claims of prospective deal should be “taken with a large pinch of salt” – given that “historically India starts rather more trade talks than it finishes”.

I mai 2021 India agreed to restart talks with the EU on a comprehensive free trade agreement, but progress in entering formal negotiations is said to have slowed since then.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said the UK wants an agreement that slashes barriers to trading with India’s economy – including cutting tariffs on exports of UK-made cars and Scotch whisky.

Scotch whisky and British cars currently face huge duties of 150 prosent og 125 per cent respectively in India. A deal has the potential to almost double UK exports to the country, the DIT claimed.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is believed to have made easier immigration to the UK a key condition for any new trade agreements.

But Mr Johnson said last week that he had ruled out relaxing immigration rules to tempt India into signing a trade deal after a Conservative MP protested at the idea of the country being held “to ransom”.

The prime minister denied there was any plan to ease visa requirements, telling Brexiteer MP Sir Edward Leigh in the Commons: “We don’t do free trade deals on that basis.”

Mr Johnson’s government remains under pressure to achieve new, post-Brexit trade deal with major nations following a series of roll-over deals – copying the terms the UK already had when it was inside the EU – before and after leaving the bloc.

The US has shelved talks, despite a recent visit to Washington by Ms Trevelyan, while farming bodies and environmentalists have attacked the deal struck with Australia for damaging British agricultural exports and lowering standards.