NEW DELHI, MAY 4
Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson have agreed on ambitious plans for the next decade of the UK-India relationship. The two countries also agreed to elevate the status of the relationship to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
The two leaders had to settle for a virtual summit as Johnson’s in-person visit was cancelled twice due to the pandemic — first in January due to the situation in the UK and again in April due to the second wave in India.
Johnson announced a 1 billion pound investment opportunity of which a quarter is Serum Institute’s plans to produce nasal vaccines in the UK.
During a virtual meeting today, the two leaders agreed on ‘2030 Roadmap’, which will provide a framework for UK-India relations across health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence.
The roadmap includes commitment to expand the UK-India health partnership, which means firming up international supply chains to ensure critical medicines, vaccines and other medical products reach those who need them most.
They also resolved to work together to ensure an ambitious outcome at Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) and expand the UK-India partnership on tackling climate change.
The two leaders decided on an Enhanced Trade Partnership, the first step towards a Free Trade Agreement to double the UK-India trade over the next decade.
As part of the confidence building measures they have also agreed on an early market access package. The UK will open up the fisheries sector, health workers and recognise Indian seafarers. India will be flexible on fruits, medical devices and mutual recognition of master’s degrees.
The UK has also agreed to allow 3,000 young Indian professionals to avail employment for two years without being subject to labour market tests. The meeting also set the tone for increased cooperation between British and Indian universities.
The two countries already have a similarity of views on the Indo-Pacific. The UK’s Carrier Strike Group will visit India later this year to undertake joint training exercises in the Western Indian Ocean.
The roadmap would pursue ties in five key areas – people to people contacts, trade and economy, defence and security, climate action and health, said Joint Secretary MEA Sandeep Chakravarty.