India-UK Relations

  • Mutual trade has declined. Bilateral trade at $14 billion falls far short of their $30 billion goal announced in 2010
  • After Brexit India and UK held talks on the possibility of inking a separate U.K.-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  • A lack of trust permeates the bilateral relationship between Britain and India : Britain’s former High Commissioner to India
Key Issues:
While India’s relations with western countries such as the US and France have dramatically improved in recent years, ties with Britain have lagged because of the following reasons:
  • India’s concerns
    • Mistrust between the two countries owing to the colonial legacy.
    • The bitter experience of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan.
    • British Labour Party’s growing political negativity towards India. For instance,
      • Supporting for self-determination for Kashmiris.
      • Criticism of government over recent farmers’ agitation.
    • Efforts of the Indian government to extradite high net worth individuals such as Vijay Mallya back to the country and
  • British concerns
    • Demands around opening up of financial and legal services in India, and its opposition to India’s visa and mobility demands as part of any agreement.
What are the possible areas of convergence for mutual development?
  • Cooperation in the health sector:
    • Bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector can help India to benefit from the enormous potential of U.K in public health sector.
    • Britain along with the G-7 countries can help transform India’s internal capabilities in the Health sector.
  • Building new global economic partnerships. Since both the countries have moved away from their regional blocs (India-RCEP, Britain-EU) a new economic partnership will benefit both the nations immensely.
  • Cooperation in geopolitical issues. For instance, Britain is tilting to the Indo-Pacific, where India is a natural ally. Whereas, India needs a wider coalition as possible to balance aggressive China.
  • Cooperation in mitigation of Climate change. The U.K can support India for the adoption of a Clean mechanism and e-mobility in the transport sector.
  • Cooperation in labour movement. Agreement on “migration and mobility” to facilitate the legal movement of Indians into Britain can benefit India’s skilled workforce.

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