An ambitious trade deal between India and the UK, described as the “greatest of all” after Brexit, is on the “edge of collapse”. How did we get here? This is what we will develop in this article.
After Brexit and the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, it was necessary to forge new trade alliances around the world to offset the effects of Brexit. This is how the United Kingdom is committed to strengthening its trade relations with countries like India. It is in this context that a draft agreement was announced by Boris Johnson during his visit to New Delhi in April 2022. This agreement was to be concluded before the Indian holiday of Diwali on October 24. London wanted to show that it was possible to establish bilateral agreements in a post-Brexit context. It was also to boost relatively weak trade. India accounts for just 1.9% of UK trade, making it only its twelfth trading partner. Downing Street hoped to double trade between the two countries by 2030.
"In a post-Brexit context, this agreement could guarantee the United Kingdom privileged access to the market for electronics, automobiles, agri-food, drinks and medical devices", wrote Pravakar Sahoo, of the Delhi Economic Growth Institute.
Everything seemed to be going well until The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman said she had “reservations” about the trade deal as she felt it will increase migration to the UK, and that Indians represented the largest group of visa overstayers. “I do have some reservations. Look at migration in this country — the largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants,” she reportedly said.
These claims had drawn furious reactions from some Indian ministers, as they were seen as "disrespectful" to India. Indian government officials were reportedly "shocked and disappointed" by Ms Braverman's remarks which raised "concerns" and "reservations" about the deal. In a message to the UK government, a source had urged UK Prime Minister Liz Truss to publicly "disassociate" herself from Ms Braverman's comments if she wanted to revive the deal. Since then the United Kingdom has changed Prime Minister but tensions remain.
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