Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reviewed the progress of the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, on Saturday.
PM Modi met Sunak, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.
Under discussion since 2022, the FTA has seen 12 rounds of talks. India had earlier expected to resolve pending issues such as rules of origin, bilateral investment treaty and intellectual property rights, among others, by the end of August.
Out of the total 26 chapters in the proposed FTA, 19 have been closed.
Indian-origin Sunak is on his first visit to India since becoming Prime Minister in October 2022.
“Both leaders expressed hope that the remaining issues could be addressed at the earliest so that a balanced, mutually beneficial and forward-looking FTA is concluded soon,” an official readout released after the meeting said.
Prime Minister Modi also invited Prime Minister Sunak for a bilateral visit at an early, mutually convenient date for a more detailed discussion. “Prime Minister Sunak accepted the invitation,” the readout said.
Meanwhile, Modi conveyed his appreciation for the UK’s support during India’s G20 presidency, marked by high-level participation at various G20 meetings and events.
The two leaders also noted the progress in diverse areas of bilateral cooperation as per the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, as well as the Roadmap 2030, particularly in the economy, defence and security, technology, green technology and climate change, health and mobility sectors.
Both leaders also exchanged views on international and regional issues of importance and mutual interest.
Japan, Italy Meetings
Modi and Kishida acknowledged the constructive dialogue of the two countries throughout the year on their priorities for their respective G20 and G7 presidencies, particularly in bringing the concerns and aspirations of the global south to the fore.
The leaders held discussions on various facets of the India-Japan bilateral partnership, including on infrastructure development, technological collaboration, investments and energy, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further deepening the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
His meeting with Meloni took stock of the progress in diverse areas of the India-Italy Strategic Partnership and agreed to bolster cooperation in areas like defence and new and emerging technologies, the MEA said.
This is Meloni’s second visit to India, following her state visit in March 2023. Back then, bilateral relations were raised to the level of strategic partnership. Both countries have completed 75 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Modi has appreciated Italy’s support for India’s G20 Presidency and Italy’s joining of the Global Biofuel Alliance and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The corridor plans to connect India to Europe via West Asia.