© Reuters. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly speaks during an interview with Reuters at the residence of the British High Commissioner in New Delhi, India, October 29, 2022. REUTERS / Altaf Hussain
By Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Britain is making a free trade deal a priority with India, its foreign minister told Reuters on Saturday during his first visit to the country, but declined to give a timeline. new deadline after missing one this month.
James Cleverly said after meeting his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar in New Delhi that relations between the two countries will further improve under Rishi Sunak, who this week became the first British prime minister of Indian descent. Degree.
“I had a great opportunity to talk about some extremely important global issues, but also to talk about the strength of our bilateral partnership and about our plans to work more closely together. with India,” Cleverly said in an interview at the residence of the British Highness. Commissioner.
He declined to say what was causing the trade deal, which both of Sunak’s predecessors during a tumultuous few months in British politics, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, had hoped to sign at the ceremony. Diwali Assembly on Monday.
Cleverly also declined to say whether it could be completed this year.
“But this is an important deal for us and one that we really prioritize and one where we will continue to make sure that our officials and our ministers talk about regularly and work hard to perform,” he said.
“We still have a lot of work to do. And it’s extremely important for us to remember that a free trade agreement as far-reaching as the one we’re negotiating, it’s never going to be simple, but it’s an incredibly important vehicle for building strong relationships and for making it truly future-focused.”
Previous sticking points included high import taxes on British whiskey for sale in India. New Delhi is also interested in making UK visas easier for Indians.
“We want to make sure that our visa arrangements are quick and easy and convenient,” says Cleverly.
The countries want to double bilateral trade by 2030, from more than $31 billion today.
Asked about the G7’s plan to cap Russia’s oil prices and its efforts to get countries like India to agree to it, Cleverly said Britain would not dictate New Delhi’s foreign policy. India and Russia have close defense ties and India has been a major buyer of Russian oil since the Ukraine war began.
“I don’t think it would be right for me to be a British politician when it comes to policy for another country,” he said.