India and the United Kingdom announced trade and investment deals

Earlier this year, the governments of India and the United Kingdom announced trade and investment deals (an enhanced trade partnership, or ETP), seen as paving the way for a free trade agreement between the nations, in the future. This reciprocal relationship between what is possibly the world’s fifth and sixth largest economies, bodes well for the economies of both countries, leaving the nations hopeful for a recovery in these troubled times.

Although advocating the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Indian government recognises the importance of foreign investment, and has taken recent steps to liberalise foreign investment requirements, as well as amended/repealed/introduced legislation with an aim to ease the doing of business in India.

The ETP seeks to improve bilateral trade between the two countries, as a first step towards the future free trade agreement, and with this in mind seeks to create business opportunities for UK businesses in the areas of food and drink, life sciences, and the services sectors. Lowering of non-tariff barriers on medical devices, as envisaged, for instance, would help in the import into India, of the medical devices, contributing to the improvement of the healthcare sector in India. A commitment to the mutual recognition of educational qualifications, would attract more Indian students to British educational institutions, and the ability to work and gain experience in the UK would lead to more fluidity in the business relationships between UK and Indian businesses (each of which may employ some of these persons).

The UK is India's second largest partner in research and innovation collaborations, and with this in mind, any co-operation on new and emerging technologies, including digital and information and communication technology products, will enable India further its AI for All Initiative, as well as developments envisaged in the telecommunication space, such as being a data centre hub, developments in M2M communications, to name a few. This could also lead to a lot more data processing by Indian entities, to service their UK counterparts, and transfer of data along the lines of any UK-India data adequacy agreements, that could be concluded between the parties.

The UK, with its long-standing experience in the manufacturing sector, could assist Indian businesses (through joint ventures, technology transfer arrangements, co-creation of technology, etc) with the initiatives of the Indian government, thereby helping India to become a part of the supply chains across the globe, and possibly going a little way towards furthering the political intent that may be envisaged by the ETP.

With the ETP seeking to serve as a first step to improving bilateral trade, it is quite possible that with this first step, soon it would no longer be lonely on the Fields of Athenry, and the two countries could continue to dream and sing, together, of their joint achievements. To further this step, the Department of Commerce, Government of India, has issued a Consultation Paper seeking the views of stakeholders on future trade negotiations between the India and the UK, in light of the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the two states. The consultation is open till 25 July, 2021.

Further information

Mills & Reeve has developed a close working relationship with like-minded law firm J.Sagar Associates (JSA) in India.  Working together we are able to provide a wide array of legal advice and guidance in connection with UK/India matters.  For further information please contact William Roles, who heads Mills & Reeve’s India desk, at [email protected].

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