UK

Brexit: Don’t rush into bad trade deal with India, business chiefs warn government

Top British business bodies have warned the government against rushing into a bad trade deal with India to meet a self-imposed deadline to get it “done by Diwali”.

Boris Johnson urged negotiators to finalise a post-Brexit free trade agreement before the annual Indian festival, which falls 24 October, during his visit to the country in spring.

But a group of 11 bodies representing tech, manufacturing and the services industry have written to trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan – urging her not to compromise on the “substance” to meet the timetable.

“It is the content of the deal which matters for UK businesses, not speed of negotiation,” they said in the joint open letter to the minister.

“We appreciate the efforts of negotiators on both sides, who are working tirelessly, but substance needs to come before any deadline,” they added.

TechUK, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the Chemical Industries Association and the City of London Corporation were among the signatories.

Trevelyan and her team should “hold out for a commercially meaningful and comprehensive deal, even if doing so means that the self-imposed deadline of Diwali is not met,” they said.

At the end of the fifth round of talks this week, a joint UK-India statement said negotiators are working “intensively” to agree a deal by the end of October 2022. India’s industry minister Piyush Goyal said talks were moving at a “faster pace”.

Trevelyan said in April that the UK would not consider India reluctance to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in pursuing a post-Brexit trade deal.

Quizzed over India’s neutrality, she told MPs: “Trade deals aren’t the tool for, sort of, if you like, the broader diplomatic agreement discussion.”

The Department for International Trade said it would not “sacrifice quality for speed” when it came to the negotiations with Delhi.

A DIT spokesperson said: “India is projected to be the world’s third largest economy by 2050, and any improvements to our current trading arrangement could be game changing for UK businesses.

“We remain clear that we won’t sacrifice quality for speed and will only sign a deal which delivers for the UK.”

Xural.com

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