UK PM Boris Johnson to visit India next month; Indo-Pacific, Defence and COVID Vaccines to be the focus

By: |
March 17, 2021 4:28 PM

Last December, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate in the G-7 meeting slated for June.

UK is a very important trade partner for India. (File image)

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that he is going to visit India next month to “strengthen our friendship with World’s Biggest Democracy.” This will be his first trip overseas since Britain left the European Union trade and market regime. The exact dates of the visit have not been announced officially by either side. The visit of the UK premier comes ahead of the G-7 meeting in June, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a special guest.

Agenda of the visit

No official agenda of the visit has been announced. However, according to sources, officials from both sides are in the process of firming up the agenda. The focus of the visit is going to be building partnership with the UK in various sectors including Maritime Security, Joint production in defence, Cyber Security, Climate Change, trade, education, vaccine production, health, migration and mobility. The two sides will also talk about regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Trade Deal

As reported earlier, before the global pandemic the bilateral trade between the two countries saw a vibrant 11 per cent increase. Both sides are working on firming up a proposed Free Trade agreement (FTA).

Also read | India-UK Trade Deal soon? Talks on track, says UK High Commissioner

British Scotch whisky to enter India soon?

UK is a very important trade partner for India. Post Brexit, India has been considering a Free Trade agreement with Britain, as that market is attractive for service providers from India. The bilateral trade between India and the UK has touched USD 15.48 billion in 2019-20.

Also read | India-UK military ties: Both sides keen to expand ties to face challenges

Based on the final outcome of discussions between the two countries on the FTA, as part of an Early Harvest Programme in lieu of matching benefits, there are reports that India is expected to give a greater market access to Scotch whisky from the UK.

G-7

Last December, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate in the G-7 meeting slated for June.

India had also been invited to be part of the D-10 group (which has democratic partners Australia, South Korea and India in addition to the G-7).

Post Brexit — UK to release a blueprint for defense and diplomacy

Ahead of PM Johnson’s visit to India at the end of next month, in an effort to overhaul the country’s international priorities after a 100 page blueprint for diplomacy and defense has been released. This Integrated Review, according to an official statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi, is the most comprehensive review of the UK’s defence, security, development and foreign policy since the Cold War.

“Also, it defines Britain’s post-Brexit vision and outlines the UK’s international objectives and how it will work with allies and partners to achieve them.”

The review comes during a crucial year for the UK’s international leadership, as that country hold’s the Presidency of the G7 and is getting set to host the COP26 Summit.

Five focus areas of the UK’s foreign Policy

Solving global challenges: This includes helping the world in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as tackling climate change.

Acting as a responsible Cyber Power; Investing in Science and Technology. This includes establishing a new advanced research and invention agency and promoting an open and secure cyberspace.

Defending democracy and Human Rights: By 2025 ensuring 40 million more girls go to school in low and middle income countries. And to also introduce a new global sanctions regime on corruption.

Championing the free flow of trade, capital and knowledge: By the end of 2022, have trade agreements with countries covering 80 per cent of UK Trade. And, joining the trans-pacific trade partnership.

Taking a more robust approach to security and deterrence: increasing investments in defence to 2.2% of GDP. More active role to resolve conflict and to address the drivers of conflict.

As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier warship will sail to the Pacific on her maiden deployment later this year.

Also, according to the office of the British Prime Minister, the UK is also applying for partner status at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Also read | India-UK ties, symbolic of a new era! Both nations agree on a roadmap to broaden ties; focus on maritime security

The two sides are also in the midst of discussions on concluding a comprehensive migration and mobility partnership agreement before the UK premier arrives. This agreement is expected to help in the faster movement of students and professionals in both directions.

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