Negotiations between senior officials of India and the UK are in "full swing" to bridge differences on issues such as rules of origin and services sector, with an aim to conclude the talks for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) at the earliest, sources said.
They said that a small Indian team is also there in London to iron out differences on the rules of origin.
"The 13th round of talks are going on. The tough issues are there in both goods and services such as financial services. Talks are also happening on the proposed bilateral investment treaty," one of the sources said, adding differences on intellectual property rights have been bridged.
When asked whether the negotiations will be concluded by the end of this month, the source said both the countries are continuously engaging on the remaining differences and “We should wait till these negotiations are over".
There were reports that the two countries may finalise the agreement by the end of this month.
Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal last week stated that the negotiations for the proposed trade agreement between India and the UK are at an advanced stage.
India and Britain launched the talks for free-trade agreement (FTA) in January 2022, with an aim to conclude talks by Diwali (October 24, 2022), but the deadline was missed due to political developments in the UK.
There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights.
A majority of these chapters are closed and for the remaining issues, high-level engagements at various levels are ongoing.
The investment treaty is being negotiated as a separate agreement between India and the UK.
These investment treaties help in promoting and protecting investments in each other's country. The main point of contention involved in this pact is about the mechanism for the settlement of disputes.
The BITs help in promoting and protecting investments in each other's countries.
India has proposed to first utilise all local judicial remedies for settlement of disputes before initiating an international arbitration.
The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals from sectors like IT, and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods at nil customs duties.
On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, automobiles, lamb meat, chocolates and certain confectionary items.
Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in Indian markets in segments like telecommunications, legal and financial services (banking and insurance).
The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23, from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22.