LONDON – Britain’s trade chief has dismissed reports that a trade deal between the United Kingdom and India is imminent or will be signed during next month’s Cricket World Cup in India.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said on Tuesday that her boss, Rishi Sunak, will reportedly go. to India next month signing a deal to coincide with the England vs India World Cup match are “a very optimistic report from the newspapers” and that “it is possible, but I wouldn’t set that kind of deadline.”
“We’ve always been very, very specific that it’s about the deal, not the day. We will get there when we reach a deal that is mutually beneficial for India and the UK,” Badenoch told the Westminster business and commerce committee.
“We’ve done a lot, so we’re pretty close, but as I said (in parliament) last week…. The last remaining parts are always the most difficult,” he added.
For the past month there has been feverish speculation that a deal is inching closer to completion, with British officials believing the Indian government is briefing local media to increase pressure on Sunak and Badenoch.
Both sides are racing to reach a deal before their respective elections in 2024. Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had originally set a deadline of October 2022.
The United Kingdom is still trying to secure greater access to the Indian market for its services companies in the negotiations, and India is resisting unless it obtains concessions on mobility for Indian entrepreneurs, in addition to several other issues.
There are also disputes over tariffs on British products such as Scotch whisky, which currently faces a 150 per cent tax when exported to India.