The Department for International Trade (DIT) confirmed that the Cabinet minister, who held talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal during her visit to Delhi between February 5 and 9, had agreed the terms of an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) and set the stage for a potential free trade agreement (FTA) in the future.
Besides, the minister also clinched a major investment by TCS that will bring 1,500 high-skilled jobs to sites all over the UK and further investment by Wockhardt at its Wrexham site in Wales, which will lead to more than 40 new jobs and the extension of a COVID-19 vaccination contract to ensure the UK has “uninterrupted” fill and finish capacity for vaccines in 2022.
“India is the world’s biggest democracy and a nation that shares our belief in free enterprise. Deeper trading ties will create opportunities for UK businesses that were simply not there as part of the European Union, and set the stage for a much closer partnership with one of the economic powerhouses of the present and future,” said Truss.
“We will be collaborating much more closely in the industries of tomorrow like science, tech and green growth, so we can build back better and deliver an export-led, investment-led, jobs-led recovery from coronavirus,” she said.
According to official statistics, the UK-India trade relationship was worth 23 billion pounds in 2019 and supports key industries such as technology and life sciences and around half a million jobs in each other’s economies.
During her India visit, Truss met UK respiratory digital health company Smart Respiratory Products, which is helping doctors in India manage their patients remotely via a smartphone app and telemedicine platform. The firm recently secured a GBP 5-million partnership with Indian company, Care Ability Healthcare, to supply their Smart Asthma respiratory solutions.
“Life Sciences has been a priority sector for both nations, with UK pharmaceuticals exports to India growing by 21.4 per cent to 96.75 million pounds in 2019,” the DIT notes.
In the field of life sciences and artificial intelligence (AI), AI healthcare start-up Behold, AI announced during the visit that it has partnered with India’s Apollo Group to provide a diagnostic tool, which can quickly analyse chest x-rays to aid in screening COVID-19 positive patients.
And UK firm Micropore, which specialises in equipment and support services to enable pharma companies to improve the performance and economies of their formulated products, is setting up in Hyderabad to supply its membrane emulsification technology to the region and neighbouring markets.
The DIT said that the proposed ETP, the parameters of which were agreed by the ministers over the weekend, is an important part of the UK government’s plan to deepen links with major economies of the present and future beyond Europe, creating more trade and investment in strategic industries like science, tech and services. And India, as the fastest growing major economy in the world, is an important part of this post-Brexit outlook.
“Throughout the global pandemic, India and the UK have supported each other by keeping vital supply chains open, tackling protectionism and collaborating on vaccine research – whether that be the production of over a billion doses of our life-saving Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at India’s Serum institute or unlocking the export of nearly 3 million packets of paracetamol,” the DIT said.
The UK and India are pegged as “significant investors and markets” for each other’s economies as in 2019-20, the UK was the largest European market for India’s goods exports.