India-UK Free Trade Agreement: Diwali deadline no longer valid, negotiations continue

Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between India and the UK are no longer targeting a Diwali deadline, according to UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch. The objective is no longer to finalize a draft agreement by October 24 despite the fact that the negotiations are going well.

“We are close. We are still working on a deal. One of the things that has changed is that we are no longer working until the Diwali deadline,” Badenoch told the BBC.

With DIT previously stating only that the government would not compromise quality for speed, this is the first formal indication that the two sides no longer see Diwali as the closing date for the majority of the deal.

Liz Truss’ government obviously won’t sacrifice quality for expediency and will only sign when a deal that serves the interests of both nations has been reached, a spokesman for Truss told reporters.

Read also : India-UK free trade deal by Diwali remains a possibility, UK government sources say

Minister in charge of FTA negotiations at Department of International Trade (DIT) says India deal will bring big wins for industry as high tariffs of up to 150% are expected to be lowered.

“We closed a lot of chapters (sections of the negotiating text). Negotiations are progressing well. But we want to focus on the quality of the transaction rather than the speed of the transaction. Given the changes that have taken place – not just in government but also the period of mourning (for the Queen) and so on, it makes sense that we focus on the deal rather than the day,” Badenoch said.

Read also : India trade deal will encourage immigration, says UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman ‘worried’

Badenoch’s statement comes after UK government sources claimed that the majority of FTA negotiations between India and the UK should be conducted by Diwali.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the Diwali calendar when he visited India in April, and it was widely expected to be a tight deadline given the ensuing political unrest in the UK.

Read also : India-UK free trade deal likely to be sealed by Diwali: Piyush Goyal

The UK and India were working towards the FTA’s Diwali deadline, according to Union Trade Minister Piyush Goyal in September. August saw the conclusion of the fifth round of FTA negotiations between the two countries.

(With contributions from the agency)

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