UK: Govt looks to complete UK FTA talks in 2 weeks

NEW DELHI: The government is hoping to complete the negotiations on a trade deal with the UK over the next two weeks, while stating that it is eyeing free trade agreements with countries such as Peru and Chile with a view to secure critical minerals.

“In addition to trade, now we are looking at FTAs from the point of view of our strategic considerations. So, that is the fresh approach we are taking,” commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal told reporters. In the negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Australia as well, critical minerals is one of the elements, along with the possibility of expanding it to sports, among the 15 new areas of discussions.
The government is in the hunt for lithium and other critical minerals as it pushes for energy transition, which could be used for batteries.

Barthwal also said that significant progress has been made in the talks with the UK, where 19 of the 26 chapters have now been negotiated and discussions in areas such as investment and intel lectual property rights are among those that are currently pending.
“Now, only a few issues are left. A team from the UK is coming for the (G20) Trade and Investment Group meeting (in Jaipur next week). We hope to close it when they visit,” Barthwal said.
The government is closely monitoring imports to ensure that there is no concentration of goods coming from one country, but has ruled out further restrictions like the one imposed on laptops, tablets and personal computers.

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