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13th Joint Economic and Trade Committee-Ministers get to Business 

ANI , Jul 18, 2019

In the 13th Joint Economic and Trade Committee meeting in London, Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, and his counterpart, India's Minister of Commerce, Piyush Goyal, met with businesses to discuss how to ensure UK-India trade relations achieve their full potential.

During this day of trade dialogue and action, three new bilateral business-led working groups were launched to dive into how to unlock remaining barriers to trade in food and drink, life sciences and healthcare, and digital and data services from a business perspective.

These working groups run by the UK India Business Council with the CII and FICCI, will identify solutions to the key issues faced in each sector, making recommendations directly to UK and Indian Ministers.

In an important meeting for Indian business, the UKIBC and CII hosted leading Indian investors in the UK for direct talks with senior Home Office officials as part of consultations on the UK Government's new skills-based immigration White Paper.

It is often said that India will require more access to UK work visas as part of any future trade deal. Engagement with India and Indian businesses has been the top priority for the UK Government since the White Paper was released in December 2018, with the first overseas consultation visit being to India in January this year.

Although India already receives 60 per cent of all work visas the UK issues - more than the rest of the world combined, the UK is determined to engage seriously and deeply with Indian business to make sure the future legislation is right and that it is well-understood in India.

India's Minister of Commerce, Piyush Goyal, also met a diverse group of UK businesses including SMEs and MNC investors to discuss market access barriers and delivering ease of doing business reform in a meeting that included Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, UK High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, KCMG, and the Indian High Commissioner to India, Ruchi Ghanashyam.

Across all sectors, it became clear throughout the day that taking Ease of Doing Business reforms down to the state and district levels will be a major part of transforming the day-to-day operating environment, especially for SMEs.

Likewise, strengthening IP enforcement, streamlining customs approvals, delivering globally competitive taxation rates would signal India's national determination to be a global, high-value, manufacturing hub.

"The early signs from the newly re-elected Government in India suggest serious commitment towards stepping up ease of doing business reform. Based on today's JETCO discussions between Ministers and businesses on both sides, there is real optimism that India will break into the top-50 for ease of doing business globally, and should set its sights yet further still as the UK seeks to forge an ever closer and strategic post-Brexit relationship with India", said Richard Heald, CEO, UKIBC.

UK-India trade relations are reviewed annually at the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) between the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade and India's Minister of Commerce, and today saw its 13th session having been established in 2005.