New Delhi: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s two-day hurricane go to to India got here to an finish Friday with a packed set of deliverables as he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an in-person summit for the primary time.
Giving a push to the 2 nations’ Complete Strategic Partnership, which was introduced at their final virtual summit in Could 2021, Modi and Johnson determined to develop India-UK defence collaboration throughout their assembly Friday, together with joint manufacturing and co-development of fighter jets and next-generation jet engine know-how.
The 2 sides have additionally instructed their respective officers to conclude the negotiations for a free commerce settlement (FTA) by “Diwali”, whereas tariff points proceed to pose challenges.
“Groups of each nations are working as regards to the Free Commerce Settlement. Good progress is being made within the negotiations. And we have now determined to make full efforts in the direction of the conclusion of the FTA by the top of this yr,” mentioned Modi.
Modi additionally mentioned, “We’ve got additionally agreed to boost cooperation within the defence sector. We welcome the UK’s assist for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in all sectors of producing, know-how, design, and growth within the defence sector.”
Referring to India as a “beautiful and shining” nation, the British PM mentioned the 2 nations would more and more collaborate to bolster one another’s home defence industries. He introduced an “open common export license” to facilitate the switch of know-how, thereby permitting Indian defence corporations to take part within the UK’s aviation and naval shipbuilding programmes.
Addressing a press convention earlier than leaving for the UK, Johnson mentioned, “Our new and increasing defence and safety partnership will allow India to strengthen its personal home defence trade in addition to defending important shared pursuits within the Indo-Pacific.”
Johnson, nonetheless, made it clear that the UK would “be certain” that such collaboration doesn’t lead to delicate defence know-how that it transfers to India ending up in Russia.
In response to the British PM, India and the UK ought to continuously concentrate on “sticking collectively and confronting our shared anxieties on autocratic coercions around the globe, and act collectively to make our nations protected and extra affluent.”
“India is an unimaginable rising energy in Asia, one of many fastest-growing economies on the planet … India can be our largest associate within the Indo-Pacific, which is more and more the geopolitical centre of the world,” he added.
He additionally mentioned that the 2 nations’ nationwide safety advisors (NSA), defence and international ministers could be assembly collectively in a “rolling programme” to kickstart all of the tasks.
“The 2 prime ministers seemed ahead to the convening this yr of the Defence Ministerial Dialogue, which might be an essential step to make sure that all the required framework agreements are in place,” mentioned the India-UK joint assertion.
Whisky tariffs a ‘robust one’ on proposed India-UK FTA
Whereas the 2 leaders determined to conclude the negotiations — launched in January 2022 — by October this yr, Johnson mentioned India’s imposition of tariffs on imported whisky and different liquors stays a hurdle.
“There are some enormous tariffs … Tariffs on whisky is a troublesome one… It will likely be nice if we are able to repair that, however there are all kinds of issues that should be addressed,” he mentioned.
India imposes a 150 per cent tariff on imported liquor.
Nevertheless, Johnson believes the FTA has the potential to generate 1000’s of jobs on each side.
Lauding investments made by UK firms in India, Modi mentioned, “We additionally had discussions on the great reforms happening in India, our infrastructure modernisation plan and the Nationwide Infrastructure Pipeline. We welcome the rising funding in India by UK firms. And, instance of this we obtained to see yesterday at Halol in Gujarat.” Johnson inaugurated UK–based mostly producer JCB’s new plant in Halol Thursday.
Khalistan problem can’t be ‘tolerated’
On being requested what the UK authorities is doing in the direction of India’s considerations on rising threats from Khalistani organisations and different terrorist components, Johnson mentioned that the UK has a “very sturdy view” on extremist teams.
“We’ve got a really sturdy view within the UK. We don’t tolerate extremist teams organising within the UK with a view to threatening different nations, threatening India, however what we’ve completed significantly on account of this go to is ready up an anti-extremism process power to see what extra we are able to do to assist India in that side,” he mentioned.
Talking to reporters on this problem, Overseas Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla mentioned Prime Minister Modi did increase the Khalistan problem with Johnson and spoke about India’s coverage of “zero tolerance” in the direction of such points.
UK understands India-Russia relationship
On the problem of India not calling out Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Johnson mentioned the UK understands that New Delhi and Moscow have age-old ties.
However the British PM additionally lauded the truth that India had condemned the Bucha killings, and mentioned India is seeing what is going on.
“You must recognise that the Indians have really come out with sturdy language by what occurred in Bucha … Modi has spoken to Putin a number of instances, actually, to ask him what on earth he thinks he’s doing,” Johnson mentioned, including that “Indians need peace and so they need Russians out and I completely agree with that.”
Johnson added, “India has a historic relationship with Russia which all people understands and that goes again many years.”
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)