UK PM Boris Johnson to visit India next week, to hold 'in-depth' talks with PM Modi

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India next week and will hold talks with PM Modi in New Delhi to bolster close partnership and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, April 17, 2022, 07:29 AM IST
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Boris Johnson will become the first British Prime Minister to visit Gujarat when he lands in Ahmedabad next week for a two-day visit to India for "in-depth talks" with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, according to Downing Street.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India next week and will hold talks with PM Modi in New Delhi to bolster close partnership and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Johnson's first visit to India as UK Prime Minister will begin on April 21 with a trip to Ahmedabad in Gujarat, which is PM Modi's home state.

Investment announcements in key industries in both the UK and India will take place, Downing Street said in a statement on Saturday.

Johnson will then proceed to New Delhi to meet PM Modi on April 22, where the focus will be on India-UK strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership.

"The visit will begin from Ahmedabad on Thursday (21st April) to meet with leading businesses and discuss the UK and India's thriving commercial, trade and people links. This will be the first time a UK Prime Minister will visit Gujarat, India's fifth-largest state and the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK," Downing Street said in a statement.

In Gujarat, Johnson is expected to announce new science, health and technology projects, as well as major investments in key industries in the United Kingdom and India.

"The Prime Minister will then travel to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (22nd April). The leaders will hold in-depth talks on the UK and India's strategic defense, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering our close partnership and stepping up security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific," the release added.

According to the British government, Johnson will use the upcoming visit to India to drive progress in the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to boost bilateral trade by up to 28 billion pounds (USD 36.5 billion) annually by 2035.

"My visit to India will deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations - from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence," Johnson said as quoted in the Sunday government statement.

Notably, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month and agreed to build a strong relationship between the two countries on trade, security and business in the coming days.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks, which will move into their third round later this month, are expected to result in a deal predicted to boost the UK's total trade by up to 28 billion pounds (USD 36 billion) annually by 2035 and increase incomes across the UK by up to 3 billion pounds (USD 3.9 billion).

It emerged earlier this week that at the end of the first two rounds, four out of 26 chapters have been agreed and there has been "significant progress" in the remaining 22 chapters of the FTA.

The two leaders are expected to mandate a timeline for the possible completion of the process, initially set for the end of this year.

Last year, the two prime ministers had agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than 530 million pounds (USD 692 million) in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security, and connecting people.

India was identified as a priority relationship for the UK in the 2021 Integrated Review and was invited by the UK as a guest to last year's G7 summit in Cornwall, the UK government officials noted.

Downing Street highlighted that the UK is leveraging post-Brexit trade opportunities with India's growing economy to drive down prices in key commodities for consumers, open opportunities for UK businesses in areas like green tech and services, and create high-wage, high-skill jobs.

According to official estimates in the UK, investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the UK, which is expected to be boosted by upcoming announcements and a future free trade deal.

Modi and Johnson last met in person on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November last year. Johnson's visit next week is seen as long overdue on both sides, having been cancelled twice before due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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