India hopes to conclude free trade deal with Britain this year, finance minister says


New delhi (Reuters) – India hopes to conclude talks over a free trade deal with the United Kingdom by the end of this year, India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday, amid consensus on broad contours of the pact meant to boost economic growth and jobs.

“I won’t be wrong in saying a free trade agreement with UK is very close,” Sitharaman said at an industry conference in New Delhi.

The finance minister’s comments come as the two nations work to agree on issues including intellectual property rights, rules of origin and an investment treaty.

While the two nations are not working with a deadline to close the deal, India is committed to “a good outcome at the fastest possible speed”, the country’s trade minister Piyush Goyal said at a separate press conference on Friday, after a G20 trade ministers gathering in Rajasthan, western India.

India and the UK will hold another round of discussions over the proposed deal while British trade minister Kemi Badenoch is in India, Goyal added.

A deal between India and the United Kingdom is crucial for New Delhi, which hopes to become a bigger exporter, while the UK would get wider access for its whisky, premium cars and legal services.

Both countries are aiming to double bilateral trade by 2030 via such a deal.

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