International trade secretary Liz Truss will meet her Indian counterpart tomorrow to outline the timetable for negotiations for a UK-India trade deal.
Truss will meet with India’s minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal, after the consultation period for the UK-India deal finished on 31 August.
The two sides are hoping to commence negotiations for a UK-India trade deal before the end of this year.
City A.M. reported last month that the UK wants to wrap up a quick “interim” trade deal with India, which could see the two countries agree to slash tariffs on some goods before a comprehensive agreement is closed.
This could mean that 150 per cent tariffs on Scotch whisky going into India could be dropped.
India has been very reluctant under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sign international trade deals, with the country’s last agreement inked 10 years ago.
As India’s economy has grown into the sixth biggest in the world, it has also become far more protectionist under Modi’s watch.
The Telegraph reports that Truss will tell the Policy Exchange think tank next week that the Tory part needs to “face facts” and not embrace further tax rises, after Boris Johnson hiked National Insurance next week.
She is expected to say: “We must face facts: the path to economic revival does not lie in retreating and retrenching from the global marketplace, or inexorably growing the size of the state.
“That would leave us poorer, less free and consign us to decline. The Prime Minister is absolutely right that in order to win in 2024, we need to embrace free enterprise and free trade to deliver for voters and deliver on the promise of a better Britain.
“The trade agenda is critical to that, and a chronically underrated part of our economic arsenal. For all those reasons and more, our best way forward lies firmly in free trade and free enterprise.”
It comes as Labour shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry today pledged to “put workers first” in future trade deals if the party was elected.
This would include allowing parliament to have a say over negotiating objectives, precluding the NHS from all trade negotiations and blocking trade deals with countries who “seriously abuse the rights of their workers”.
“I truly believe that trade can be a global force for good, driving progress on climate change and international development, demanding respect for human rights and gender equality, and raising standards and prosperity throughout the world,” she said.
“But we must start with a trade policy that will create decent, well-paid jobs here at home, raise standards around the world, and ensure every trade deal the UK signs is used to protect, promote and enforce the rights of workers, wherever they may live.