Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India]: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday (April 21) landed in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad for a two-day visit to India with a focus on stepping up cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, giving momentum to negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries as well as enhancing defence ties.
Johnson started his visit from Ahmedabad, where he is scheduled to meet with leading business group leaders and discuss the UK and India’s thriving commercial, trade, and people’s links. This will be the first time a UK Prime Minister will visit Gujarat, India’s fifth-largest state and the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK.
On Friday morning, Johnson will attend a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan and later a wreath-laying at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi.
The UK Prime Minister will then travel to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Modi on April 22, where the leaders will hold in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering close partnership and stepping up security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
The UK Prime Minister will also hold talks with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar. The two sides will issue a press statement at around 1 pm at Hyderabad House on the same afternoon.
According to a statement by the British High Commission, Johnson will use the visit to drive progress in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations launched earlier this year as a deal with India is predicted to boost UK’s total trade by up to 28 billion pounds annually by 2035 and increase incomes across the UK by up to 3 billion pounds.
Last year, Johnson and PM Modi agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than 530 million pounds in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security connecting our people.
India was also identified as a priority relationship for the UK in the 2021 Integrated Review and was invited by the UK as a guest to last year’s G7 in Carbis Bay.
The third round of negotiations will begin next week, and the two sides are keen to double bilateral trade by 2030.
The two countries are also exploring the possibility of an interim agreement to provide quick gains for benefitting businesses on both sides.
The United Kingdom is also looking to increase its footprint in defence production in India.
The British Prime Minister’s visit to India begins amid the rising importance of the Indo-Pacific and India’s centrality in the region. The two countries are set to further intensify cooperation across the full spectrum of bilateral ties.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is expected to figure in the bilateral talks with Johnson putting forth UK position and listening to the Indian perspective while not lecturing India, sources said.
They said the two sides understand and respect each other’s position on Ukraine, and it will be part of the discussion. (ANI)