UK to sign trade agreements with Egypt and India

UK to sign trade agreements with Egypt and India

India and the United Kingdom are exploring a limited trade agreement to lower tariffs on a few goods and easing rules for select services in what is being widely perceived as preparing ground for a free trade agreement (FTA). The issue was recently discussed by the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), co-chaired by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and the UK secretary of state (SoS) for international trade Elizabeth Truss.

“Minister Goyal and SoS Truss affirmed their shared commitment to a FTA and towards that, early harvest deals in a staged manner,” an official statement said.

The Indian government is reportedly looking at a time frame of around a year to clinch the early harvest agreement with junior trade minister Hardeep Puri and his UK counterpart Ranil Jayawardena scheduled to hold monthly meetings to intensify the dialogue.

The United Kingdom is also eager to clinch bilateral trade deals after Brexit and India wants to make the most out of it as its garment makers and several other labour-intensive sectors often get an unfavourable deal compared to counterparts from Bangladesh and other rivals.

The UK India Business Council has welcomed the development.

UK is also close to signing an FTA with Egypt. Following the JETCO, UKIBC managing director Kevin McCole said: ‘The enhanced trade partnership announced today, setting the path to a UK-India FTA, is an important signal that both the UK and India are committed to deepening an already strong partnership. It is also important that the governments are retaining their sharp focus on tackling market access barriers, which will not only expand bilateral trade and investment, but build confidence and momentum towards an FTA.”

Egypt will soon sign a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom following the latter’s exit from the European Union, according to minister of trade and industry Nevine Gamea, who recently announced the development during a virtual conference on the government’s role in supporting the private sector organised by the British Egyptian Business Association.

As the United Kingdom considers Egypt to be the main gateway to Africa, her ministry was looking at obtaining additional advantages, especially concerning the export of crops, Gamea said.

The volume of trade exchanged between the two countries reached $2.5 billion during the first 10 months of 2019, compared to $2.4 billion during the same period in 2018.

During the conference, Gamea spoke about intensifying local industrialisation, which is a long-standing issue that has been discussed for years, but whose implementation is not easy, according to Egyptian media reports.

Gamea noted her ministry and the finance ministry have held several meetings with industrialists from sectors like engineering, textiles and readymade clothing to understand the needs of domestic manufacturers.

Customs distortions were the biggest obstacle facing the ministry’s plans to deep local industrialisation, she said.

The government will review the new export subsidy programme, launched last November, in which overdue arrears are being paid. The programme has met with opposition from several companies, which necessitated the review, she added.

Source: Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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