The UK will officially launch negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal with India today at an event in New Delhi.
International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will make the formal announcement alongside Indian minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal, with the two set to outline parameters of the talks.
A trade deal with India, one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, would be a major prize for the UK post-Brexit.
Negotiations will likely be difficult as India has not signed a free trade deal with another country for many years and there may be concerns in the UK over the country’s food safety standards.
The UK government is hoping the willingness of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open official talks will mean that the country has become open for new trade deals.
“By 2050 India will be the world’s third largest economy with a middle class of almost 250m shoppers,” Trevelyan said.
“We want to unlock this huge new market for our great British producers and manufacturers across numerous industries from food and drink to services and automotive.”
The UK’s key requests in negotiations will be around getting greater access for British businesses, particularly in the services industries, to operate in India.
Trevelyan will also be looking for India to slash the 150 per cent tariff it has on British whisky and 125 per cent tariff it has on British made cars.
Modi’s government in return will want greater market access for its farmers to sell their meat products in the UK and for more visas for Indian nationals.
Miles Celic, chief executive of the TheCityUK business lobby group, said: “As both the UK and Indian economies are driven by exciting and innovative services industries, any trade agreement should reflect this and strive to deliver stronger two-way investment and trade in services. It is also an opportunity to break new ground for cross-border services issues and show real ambition to improve global services trade.”