LONDON: Britain’s business minister Sajid Javid on Friday is to hold post-Brexit talks on the country’s future trade relationship with India, the first of many such discussions planned with world powers.
Following Britain’s referendum vote last month to exit the European Union, the country is left with the huge task of forging fresh trade agreements with individual countries as a non-bloc member.
“Following the referendum result, my absolute priority is making sure the UK has the tools it needs to continue to compete on the global stage,” Javid said in a statement.
“That is why I am in India today to launch these initial trade discussions. There is a strong bilateral trade relationship between our two countries and I am determined that we build on this.”
Javid “will kick-off preliminary trade talks with India… when he meets the Indian finance and commerce ministers during a series of discussions in Delhi”, the statement added.
“It is the first in a series of trade meetings the business secretary will conduct over the coming months, which also is expected to include trips to the USA, China, Japan and South Korea,” it said.
Javid added that the government, which will soon be led by a new prime minister after the post-Brexit vote resignation of David Cameron, plans to have up to 300 specialist staff by the end of the year to aid in the new trade negotiations.
According to the UK’s Conservative government, last year’s trade in goods and services between Britain and India stood at £16.55 billion ($21.38 billion, 19.32 billion euros).
According to the World Trade Organization, the EU has free trade agreements with 58 countries outside the bloc and finalising such partnerships can take years, as highlighted by the long-delayed EU-Canada deal.
Canadian and European leaders formally concluded their deal in 2014, but implementation has been put on ice owing to rising discontent in Europe over the effects of globalisation and granting too much power to big business.