Boris Johnson Lands In India, Free-Trade Agreement On Table: 10 Points

UK PM Boris Johnson arrives in India on a two-day visit

New Delhi:
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson landed in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad this morning as part of his two-day India visit. He will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow, where both are expected to discuss trade and defence, among other issues.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Mr Johnson indicated he was ready to offer more visas to India in return for this year clinching a free-trade deal that could boost annual bilateral trade by billions of pounds, news agency Reuters reported.

  2. Speaking on the plane on his way to India, Mr Johnson signalled he was ready to be more accommodating on an issue that could have stalled the talks. “I have always been in favour of talented people coming to this country,” Mr Johnson told reporters. “We are short to the tune of hundreds of thousands of people in our economy and we need to have a progressive approach and we will.”

  3. Mr Johnson will visit Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad later. He is also likely to meet with businessman Gautam Adani. Then the British Prime Minister will fly to Vadodara, where he will visit a plant of the heavy machine firm JCB. From there, he will go to Gandhinagar’s Gujarat International Finance Tec-City or GIFT City. He will go to Delhi in the evening.

  4. The UK had said it would not look to “lecture” India over its neutral stance in the UN on the Ukraine war or India’s decision to increase Russian oil imports. The UK, however, has been trying to persuade India to reduce its reliance on Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

  5. Mr Johnson’s visit is likely to give a fresh push to the proposed free-trade agreement between India and the UK, boost cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and enhance defence ties. A major focus of Mr Johnson’s talks with PM Modi would be on the situation in the Indo-Pacific as the UK is strongly opposed to any kind of coercion in the region.

  6. On the Ukraine crisis, news agency PTI cited comments by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during her visit to India last month, saying Mr Johnson is also going to follow the same line and will not lecture India on its response to the Russian invasion and that he will set out the UK’s perspective on it and listen to New Delhi’s views.

  7. Both sides are making efforts to conclude the free-trade negotiations by the end of this year. Issues related to market access for apples, medical devices, shrimps and legal services have been almost resolved, describing it as good signs for the next stage of discussions.

  8. The aim is to have something long-lasting for the next 25 years, while emphasising the importance the UK attaches to its ties with India.

  9. The India-UK relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the India-UK virtual summit held between PM Modi and Mr Johnson in May last year.

  10. At the summit then, the two sides adopted a 10-year-roadmap to expand ties in the key areas of trade and economy, defence and security, climate change and people-to-people connections, among others.

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