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India, UK seek to wrap up trade talks before busy election year

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India and the UK have begun crunch-time talks to secure a landmark free-trade deal, as leaders on both sides seek to resolve outstanding issues before they face election battles next year.

A UK team — including Amanda Brooks, director general for trade negotiations, and Douglas McNeill, chief economic adviser to the prime minister — is in New Delhi this week for further talks, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. It’s the 13th round of negotiations on a deal intended to expand a trading relationship that was worth more than $24 billion last year.

The UK Department for Business and Trade declined to comment on Monday. A spokesperson for India’s trade ministry didn’t respond to an email seeking further information.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a small window to clinch the deal between his big victory in state elections confirmed on Sunday and a nationwide vote next year. The trade deal, which has been under discussion for more than two years, would be India’s most ambitious, underscoring the country’s growing clout as the world’s most populous nation and fastest-growing major economy.

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