External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has taken strong objection to those criticizing New Delhi for delays in firming up the proposed free trade agreement with the UK and said scrutiny is required as such pacts could impact the livelihoods of people.
I hear this naysayer narrative coming back — why isn’t India quickly signing up (the FTA) with the UK? Nobody says why isn’t the UK quickly signing up with India. So somewhere, it is like we have to make that accommodation,” he said on Monday.
The external affairs minister was speaking at a book release ceremony.
India and the UK have been holding negotiations to firm up an ambitious FTA.
The two sides are learned to have finalized over 20 out of 26 chapters in the FTA and are now looking at sealing it by bridging differences on certain contentious issues including mobility of people and import duty concessions on certain items.
In April last year, the two sides had set a Diwali deadline for concluding the free trade agreement but the deal could not be finalized in view of differences over certain issues as well as political developments in the UK.
“We are right now in the middle of some fairly serious negotiations with some fairly serious partners… I hear this naysayer narrative coming back, why isn’t India quickly signing up with the UK? Nobody says why isn’t the UK quickly with the UK. Nobody says why isn’t the UK quickly signing up with India. So somewhere, it is like we have to make that accommodation. We are the people who somewhere are holding back, and we should speed it up because every FTA and every open step is an achievement in itself,” Jaishankar said