Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, convened on the fringes of the G20 Summit to deliberate on the progression of their bilateral relations, particularly in the domains of trade and commerce.
India and the United Kingdom are poised to expedite their efforts to surmount the lingering impediments hindering the finalization of a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA). Both leaders expressed their mutual desire to swiftly conclude an equitable and forward-looking trade pact. Recent discussions pertaining to the FTA, initially slated for completion last year, have primarily revolved around contentious issues, including market access for British alcoholic beverages and automobiles, as well as enhanced mobility for Indian professionals and students. The British delegation has underscored the significance of a broad-based trade accord that advances the interests of both nations, prioritizing quality over expediency.
A comprehensive, mutually advantageous, and forward-thinking FTA is the shared aspiration of Modi and Sunak, as confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs. Their conversation on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi centered on the ongoing negotiations, with the hope that the remaining points of contention could be expeditiously addressed. According to a statement from the British side, the leaders concurred that their respective ministers and negotiating teams would continue to work diligently towards the realization of the FTA. The discussion on FTA negotiations was described as productive, and Sunak reiterated the UK’s ambition to establish a groundbreaking trade pact that benefits businesses and workers in both countries, fostering growth in the trade of goods and services.
Modi expressed his gratitude for the UK’s support during India’s G20 presidency, and both leaders expressed their contentment with the progress made in various facets of bilateral cooperation, aligned with the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the Roadmap 2030. Economic development, defense, security, green technology, health, and mobility all showed significant strides, and the leaders also engaged in discussions on global and regional matters.
The British statement also highlighted the burgeoning rapport between the UK and India, exemplified by the “living bridge” connecting their peoples. It was mutually acknowledged that building upon historical ties and focusing on the future was of paramount importance. The leaders affirmed their commitment to forging a contemporary partnership in cutting-edge defense technology, trade, and innovation.
Modi and Sunak also addressed several consular matters, as per the British statement, although specific details were not disclosed. Sunak graciously accepted Modi’s invitation for a bilateral visit, to be scheduled promptly.
During the G20 Summit, Modi held another substantial bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, a key partner for India in the Indo-Pacific region. Both leaders pledged to collaborate in upholding and fortifying a free and open international order grounded in the principles of law. They also explored advanced technology domains, including space. India’s Prime Minister’s Office announced their commitment to bolster cooperation in key areas such as connectivity and commerce.
During their approximately 20-minute meeting, Kishida advocated for enhancing India’s investment climate to achieve the goal of 5 trillion yen in public and private investment and financing from Japan by 2027. Both leaders welcomed the provision of a 400 billion yen loan for a flagship high-speed rail project. Additionally, they expressed enthusiasm for various initiatives associated with the “Japan-India tourism exchange year” and discussed the launch of the Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS), which would enable Indian officials poised to play pivotal roles in bilateral relations to study in Japan.
Modi also engaged in a bilateral meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, focusing on ways to strengthen their partnership in trade, investment, commerce, defense, and security. In a tweet, Modi noted, “I had an excellent meeting with PM @GiorgiaMeloni. Our discussions encompassed a wide range of sectors, including trade, commerce, defense, and emerging technologies.” This marked Meloni’s second visit to India this year, following a state visit in March that elevated bilateral ties to the level of a strategic partnership. Modi expressed his appreciation for Italy’s participation in the Global Biofuel Alliance and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.