UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting India next month to attend Republic Day parade, and Indian apparel exporters are expecting the Indian Government to take up early execution of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK during this visit.
It will be his first bilateral visit since taking office, and the focus will be to strengthen trade and investment ties and work together on tackling climate change.
Exporters have urged the Government that if it is not possible to enter into an FTA, then India should urgently negotiate and conclude Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
The total import of apparels in the UK in 2019 was US $ 24.9 billion. Out of this, import from Bangladesh was US $ 3.6 billion, while for India it was just US $ 1.4 billion.
If the issue of duty disadvantage in the UK is addressed, then India is likely to double its exports of apparels to the UK in 2 years’ time, consequently leading to huge job creations in the country.
India’s apparel export industry, which is trying to come out of global stagnation and compete globally, is falling behind several competitors like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan due to duty disadvantage of 9.6 per cent in exporting to the UK.
Just a week back, UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab was on visit to India and discussed various trade issues with India. Both countries agreed on a 10-year, 360 degree roadmap for upgrading India-UK partnership to the next level.
India has strong traditional ties and good connect with UK retailers, but the exporters are facing severe competition due to duty disadvantages arising out of benefits under Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to 47 least developed countries (LDCs) including Bangladesh, which will continue even beyond Brexit in January 2021.