India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson Friday discussed in New Delhi a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, in addition to other matters concerning defense, trade, climate, and energy.
“In the last few months, India has started FTA with the UAE and Australia. We want to do the same with the UK,” Modi told Johnson, who referred to Modi as his 'khaas dost' ('special friend').
”I don't think the things have ever been as strong or as good between us (India-UK) as they are now, Johnson also said.
Both leaders admitted that cooperation regarding the Indo-Pacific region had also been on the agenda.
Despite India's reluctance to join sanctions against Russia, the India-UK Roadmap 2030 was focused on the mutual Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreed upon in 2021.
Johnson had also pointed out on Twitter he was looking forward to meeting with my friend Narendra Modi today in New Delhi. From climate change to energy security to defence, the partnership of our democracies is vital as the world faces growing threats from autocratic states.
In fact, the meeting witnessed the launch of a virtual Hydrogen Science and Innovation Hub with a focus on sustaining affordable green hydrogen and funding the Green Grids Initiative as announced at Glasgow's COP26 last year.
According to a UK press release, both Government heads also addressed Britain's support for new Indian-designed and built fighter jets, offering the best of British know-how on building battle-winning aircraft.”
The British Government is said to issue the first Open General Export License (OGEL) to India in a bid to reduce bureaucracy and shorten delivery times for defense procurement, as per Johnson's own words.
“We welcome the UK’s investment opportunities to India. We (Modi and Johnson) discussed how to improve free open inclusive Indo-Pacific territory. We also discussed the need for diplomacy in ending the Ukraine-Russia situation.
“We have had wonderful talks today and have strengthened our relationship in every way. The partnership between India and Britain is one of the defining friendships of our times, Johnson said at the end of the day.
This is Johnson’s first trip to India since becoming prime minister in 2019. He was earlier due to visit the country in April 2021 but that was canceled amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases.
India and the UK launched talks for a free trade agreement in January to increase commerce by 100% by 2030. Total trade between the two nations stood at over US$ 16 billion in 2021-22.
Other topics discussed included pharmaceuticals and textiles.