New £1bn trade agreement with India could create more than 6,500 jobs

4 May 2021, 02:07 | Updated: 4 May 2021, 09:40

The prime minister has announced new trade with India that could create more than 6,500 jobs.

Boris Johnson said the deal was worth £1bn and paves the way for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

Mr Johnson and India's prime minister Narendra Modi are to meet on Tuesday, although the talks will be held virtually after Mr Johnson was forced to cancel a visit to India due to the country's devastating coronavirus outbreak.

The trade agreement includes more than £533m in investment from India, which is expected to create more than 6,000 jobs in sectors including health and technology.

This includes investment by the Serum Institute of India which will support clinical trials, research, and possible manufacture of vaccines. This is worth £240m.

British businesses have also secured export deals with India worth more than £446m, expected to create more than 400 British jobs.

Mr Johnson said: "Like every aspect of the UK-India relationship, the economic links between our countries make our people stronger and safer.

"Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs we have announced today will help families and communities build back from coronavirus and boost the British and Indian economies.

"In the decade ahead, with the help of new partnership signed today and a comprehensive free trade agreement, we will double the value of our trading partnership with India and take the relationship between our two countries to new highs."

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Mr Johnson's first visit to India was scheduled for January but was delayed because of the UK's winter wave of coronavirus.

Another trip had been planned in April, but this was postponed indefinitely last month.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who was due to hold talks with her Indian counterpart on Tuesday, told Sky News the new trade agreement was "a win-win for both countries".

"It's about helping India with the immediate COVID crisis but also helping India build back better after the COVID crisis," she said.

Ms Truss added the agreement would represent "the immediate gains we can get for both countries driving jobs and growth here in Britain and in India".

She said negotiations on a full free trade agreement with India would begin in the autumn, with a view to the talks being completed "as soon as possible".

"We'll be looking for early wins that we can gain for both countries," she added.

"For example there are very high tariffs on cars into India and products like whisky into India - we want to see those tariffs lowered or removed to benefit industries here in Britain.

"And, similarly, there are products from India that we want to see here in the UK.

"India is the world's largest democracy, it's a rapidly growing economy. Currently our trade is £24bn - we think we can double that by 2030.

"This is where Britain needs to be, we need to be trading with those fast-growing parts of the world to the benefits of British people right across the country."