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    Toppling trade barriers high on agenda as CII signs pact with UK's biggest business body CBI

    Toppling trade barriers high on agenda as CII signs pact with UK's biggest business body CBI

    Toppling trade barriers high on agenda as CII signs pact with UK's biggest business body CBI
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    By PTI  IST (Published)

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    India-UK free trade agreement: The focus will now be on removal of trade barriers, cutting tariffs and supporting firms to export, so that consumers and businesses alike can tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

    With negotiations for a free trade deal between India and the UK currently underway, CII and Britain's biggest business organisation, CBI, on Monday signed a pact to set up the UK-India Business Commission to boost industry collaboration and pitch for removal of trade barriers. "The CBI, Britain's biggest business organisation, and its counterpart in India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), representing over 300,000 businesses, will set up a new joint Commission, UK-India Business Commission, to increase cross industry collaboration and to push the UK-India trade deal over the line," CII stated.

    "With negotiations between India-UK government underway, a focus on reducing the barriers to trade, cutting tariffs, and supporting firms to export will help consumers and businesses alike particularly in the face of cost-of-living crisis," it added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson set the negotiating teams on both sides a Diwali deadline for the conclusion of the India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) during bilateral discussions in New Delhi last month.

    The CII said the UK's world-leading renewable sector in particular could play an integral role in India's transition to clean energy. India has committed to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. It argued that reducing tariffs on green exports such as solar, onshore, and offshore wind could open new opportunities for firms in India.

    More broadly, securing this free trade agreement could almost double UK exports to India, boost Britain's total trade by as much as 28 billion pounds a year by 2035 and increase wages across the UK regions by 3 billion pounds, CII stated.

    As part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the CBI and CII, the Commission will provide a critical forum for discussion to ensure an FTA works to the benefit of businesses in both countries. "The group will provide continual oversight and meet ahead of key milestones to take views on trade-offs, breakdown barriers to market access and help feed in on-the-ground business intelligence at a ministerial level in India and UK," CII said.

    CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria said a free trade agreement with the world's fastest growing economy is now within touching distance, and to clinch that deal a focus on lowering barriers to trade is now essential. "For example, on renewables, we have an opportunity to export UK's expertise in cleantech. A deal has the potential to drastically lower tariffs on wind turbines parts that are currently as high as 15 percent,” he said.

     "More broadly, a deal anchored in slashing tariffs, improving the ability to move talent across borders as well as data, will unlock plenty of prizes across a host of sectors from services and life sciences to tech and innovation," he added.

    Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said: "The memorandum of understanding we sign today is the continuation of the long-standing relationship between CII and CBI. This partnership is an opportunity to address shared concerns, identify common interests and foster greater understanding and to develop capacity to address the issues of economic and global concerns."

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