The UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, which commenced in January 2022
The thirteenth round of negotiations for the UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) concluded on December 15, 2023, marking a notable stride forward in the ongoing trade discussions between the two nations. 

These negotiations took place over a span of nearly three months, beginning on September 18, 2023, and incorporated both in-person sessions in London and Delhi as well as virtual talks, according to the joint outcome statement released by India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Monday (December 18, 2023).

As with round 12, these negotiations focussed on complex issues including goods, services, and investment, the statement said.

Looking ahead, the next phase of these negotiations, which will be the fourteenth round, is scheduled to take place in January 2024. This upcoming round will likely build upon the progress made in the previous discussions and continue to address key areas of trade and investment between the UK and India.

These discussions are part of a broader effort by both the UK and India to negotiate a comprehensive and ambitious Free Trade Agreement, reflecting the deepening economic ties between the two countries.

The upcoming talks will focus on progressing trade negotiations to enhance the countries’ economic relationships, outputs in trade dynamics and regional cooperation.

The UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, which commenced in January 2022 with an initial aim to conclude by Diwali (October 24, 2022), have seen a delay due to political developments in the UK. Despite missing the initial deadline, negotiators from both sides have continued to meet monthly to progress the deal.

A key aspect of these negotiations includes the parallel discussion of a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The intention is to sign both the FTA and the BIT jointly, reflecting a comprehensive approach to economic collaboration between the two countries.

Several sticking points have emerged in the negotiations. The UK is seeking preferential duties for its automobile industry, whiskey, certain dairy items, meat, and is advocating for national treatment for its services industry in India. National treatment would mean that UK companies in sectors like financial services and telecom would be subject to the same laws and regulations as local Indian companies.

In the automobile sector, particularly regarding electric vehicles (EVs), there are discussions about limiting the number of EVs that can be traded on preferential duties between the two countries. This is especially pertinent for the UK, which plans to phase out internal combustion engines by 2035 and exports 80% of its automobile production, primarily to Europe.

From India's perspective, the country is seeking lower duties on its labor-intensive exports such as textiles and garments, along with relaxed visa rules for its services professionals. However, the UK has expressed concerns regarding migration, citing it as a significant issue that contributed to Brexit. This makes the negotiation for visa relaxations for Indian professionals a challenging and fiercely debated topic.

The scope of the India-UK FTA talks is extensive, covering 26 chapters or policy areas. These negotiations encompass a majority of sectors that are either close to conclusion or in advanced stages. Other key issues under negotiation include a social security pact, rules of origin, and intellectual property rights (IPRs), marking the broad and multifaceted nature of this proposed trade agreement.