Enhanced partnership will address barriers to trade, deepen ties, says official
The UK’s new point-based system for visas with a special route for skilled workers, to be implemented over the next two months, is likely to work in favour of India, Jan Thompson, Acting UK High Commissioner to India, has said.
The India-UK enhanced trade partnership, launched this week, will address barriers to trade and deepen relationships which could potentially lead to a free trade agreement (FTA), Thompson added at a media briefing on Tuesday.
On the UK’s new immigration rules that are to shortly come into force (following its exit from the EU earlier this year), Thompson said that removal of cap on work visas for skilled workers and lowering the minimum pay requirement would surely help India as the UK issues more skilled visas to India than rest of the world combined.
Thompson said that there was a lot of attention on India in the new strategy being formed in the UK post-Brexit and a new road-map for cooperation over the next ten years with focus on trade & investment, defence & security and health & climate was taking shape.
In fact, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was likely to visit India in the next few months and Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also keen on visiting the country later, Thompson said.
As part of the enhanced trade partnership launched by Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss on Monday, both countries will remove market access barriers and deepen trade ties. “These could be the stepping stones for a free trade agreement in the future,” she added.
The UK is the second fastest growing G20 investor in India over the last 10 years and since 2000, British companies have invested nearly £22 billion, the Acting High Commissioner pointed out underlining the potential for future growth.
On the need for global cooperation for handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Thompson said that the UK-India partnership on health – with the UK’s world-leading research expertise and India’s unparalleled manufacturing capabilities – will be the key. “The UK is committed to ensuring any vaccine, once developed, reaches those who need it,” she said.
Appreciating India’s success in emerging as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Thompson said the UK government had allocated up to £1.5 million for implementing the recommendations of the UK-India scoping exercise on PPE. This includes technical assistance from the British Standards Institute on refining India’s overall quality standards for PPE and supporting a selected group of PPE manufacturers to become export-ready.