UK-India trade ties to remain strong post-Brexit: Labour leader Emily Thornberry

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London | Published: October 21, 2017 9:46:07 PM

The UK-India trade ties would remain strong after Britain leaves the European Union, a top Labour leader has said, emphasising that the trade negotiations with India should be a top priority for any government in the UK.

Emily Thornberry, Emily Thornberry on india britain trade ties, india uk trade ties, trade ties between uk and indiaLabour leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. (Reuters)

The UK-India trade ties would remain strong after Britain leaves the European Union, a top Labour leader has said, emphasising that the trade negotiations with India should be a top priority for any government in the UK. Labour leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry also asserted that her party’s government would insist that trade, development and human rights are all inseparable parts of the same conversation. Speaking to members of the Indian Journalists’ Association here last evening, Emily said she did not doubt that the UK-India trade ties would remain strong after Britain leaves the European Union. “We need to be clear-eyed and realistic about how much can be achieved and how quickly,” she said. She said she believed that trade negotiations with India should be a top priority for any government – Labour or Tory. Emily noted that in terms of the UK’s foreign policy, too, Labour has been and remains fully committed to maintaining strong ties with India as a vital ally, a partner and a friend.

“But there are clearly challenges ahead. Perhaps the first among them, it should come as no surprise, is Brexit. Taken as a whole, the EU is India’s biggest trading partner. And the UK still accounts for a substantial chunk of that. So naturally, questions are being asked – in Brussels, London and New Delhi – about what the future of our trade relations will look like,” she said. She pointed out that the negotiations on an EU-India free-trade agreement, which have been dragging on for a decade now, have been so protracted precisely because there are still so many barriers to tariff-free trade.

Emily stated that India has become a leading contender for a permanent seat on a reformed UN Security Council, having already served as an elected member no fewer than seven times. She also slammed President Donald Trump for announcing US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. “In his speech, Trump actually singled India out in claiming that the country: ‘makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries’.

“Never mind that the claim was untrue – and later completely discredited – it showed contempt not just for international efforts to address climate change, but for one of the countries that could be most severely affected by its consequences,” she added.

She said a Labour government would not just share India’s anger at such sentiments, but also be willing to express them loudly and directly at the US President.

Emily said that the US has abdicated its role as leader of the free world and there is a vacancy to be filled. “There is not just the opportunity for Indian leadership. The world needs Indian leadership. It is crying out for Indian leadership,” she asserted.

She also “despite the reform agenda promised by Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi in the past…we have not seen the anticipated wave of privatisations promised under that agenda.”

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