India will identify those sectors and areas where it has strong competitive advantage while negotiating a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Britain, a government official said today. Citing a study, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said if India and the UK enter into an FTA, the latter would benefit more but “the effort will certainly be to identify those sectors and those areas in which we have a strong competitive advantage”.
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India and the UK both have shown keen interest to negotiate an FTA with a view to boost trade in goods, services and investments. However, a formal negotiation on the pact cannot start before Britain’s exit from the European Union. She further said that India would like to engage and look at the opportunities to deepen trade ties with the UK. “The UK is an important market for us. In future certainly, an FTA would be realistic, would be opportune, an would perhaps be to our benefit,” Teaotia said at a seminar organised by Ficci and the Centre for WTO studies.
The Secretary said at this point of time, the priority will be finding out constraints coming in the way ofdevelopment of economic relationship and also those issues which may crop up during FTA talks. Referring to India’s ongoing FTA negotiations with the EU, Teaotia said the issues which led to stalled talks with the 28-nation bloc may prove to be a roadblock in a pact with the UK as well.
With the EU, there are issues related with greater market access for automobile sector, alcoholic beverages and wine besides the demand for data security. “Now many of these issues are exactly the same for the UK and therefore, we are going to be talking about very very similar issues when we sit down to negotiate (FTA with the UK),” she added.
She, however, expressed optimism that at this point oftime the UK negotiators would be more flexible and constructive in recognising the fact that there is a benefit for both sides. Further, she said there are issues in the services sector which need to be discussed between the two countries. Citing example of the healthcare sector, she said increasingly India is providing both goods and services in this sector for its trader partner countries.
“For instance, the UK has robust and strong national health services. Using India’s world class generic industry there is a possibility of leveraging and making it be a useful asset for the UK to be able to procure these medicine fo their systems and it certainly would be a big fillip to our pharma sector,” she said.
Teaotia said there is a huge pool of Indian hospitals which are globally accredited and they are providing treatmen to patients from all over the world at a fraction of the global practices.
“Recognition by the UK insurance companies of these accredited hospitals will reduce the health bill for th national health services and will certainly be a benefit for India’s growing healthcare sector. These are the issues w will choose to discuss,” she said.