India and the UK are still in tough negotiations over a free trade deal and as positions harden, talks are likely to slip into November, two people familiar with the discussions said.
(Bloomberg) — India and the UK are still in tough negotiations over a free trade deal and as positions harden, talks are likely to slip into November, two people familiar with the discussions said.
While significant progress has been made, with the majority of chapters closed, both sides have now dug in on outstanding issues concerning goods, services and investment, the people said, requesting anonymity while discussing private talks.
The lack of a breakthrough on remaining points of tension threatens to further delay a deal that former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson once said he hoped to seal by Diwali last year. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his current British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, to visit to sign the deal at the end of October, but that’s now expected to be pushed back if outstanding issues aren’t resolved, the people said.
A team of Indian trade negotiators is in the UK this week to push ahead with the talks, as round 13 of negotiations continue, two people said.
Both sides are hoping to bring almost two years of talks over the landmark free trade deal to a conclusion, giving two of the world’s largest economies greater access to each others markets, with an ambition to double bilateral trade by 2030.
UK Envoys Head to India as Nations Seek to Conclude Trade Deal
The two nations previously softened their positions on several issues, with India agreeing to cut tariffs on British cars and scotch whisky, and Britain prepared to relax some visa rules for Indian professionals.
A team of 30 UK officials including Amanda Brooks, director general for trade negotiations, was in New Delhi last week to thrash out the pending issues. Both Modi and Sunak will have to make a political call on any outstanding matters for the pact to go ahead.
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