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Johnson to hold talks with India’s Modi as £1bn worth of deals agreed

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Boris Johnson on Tuesday will hold bilateral talks with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, as the UK government announced that the two countries had agreed commercial trade and investment deals worth almost £1bn. 

Downing Street said the trade package, which includes £533m of investment into the UK from India, will generate more than 6,000 jobs in the UK. British businesses have also been granted trade deals within India worth about £446m. 

Johnson said the latest deals, alongside any future trade agreement, would take the UK-India relationship to “new highs” and would “double the value” of the trading partnership between the two countries. Bilateral annual trade is estimated to be worth £23bn. 

“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,” Johnson added.

The package will also include a £240m investment by the Serum Institute of India into the UK health and sciences sector in order to provide additional funding for clinical trials, vaccine development and research.

On Tuesday afternoon, the two prime ministers will discuss how to strengthen the UK-India relationship in areas such as climate change, defence and trade. The meeting was initially planned to go ahead in person in India, but Johnson’s trip was scrapped last month after a surge of infections in India.

The pair will also agree an enhanced trade partnership to open up opportunities for business within sectors such as food and drink, and life sciences.

The partnership will reduce trade barriers, for example, by reducing the non-tariff barriers on items such as fruit, removing the prohibition on UK lawyers practising in India, and allowing medical devices to be exported between the UK and India more easily.

International trade secretary Liz Truss said the latest deal was a “win-win” for both countries, adding that negotiations on a full trade agreement would begin in the autumn.

“We will start negotiations on a full free-trade agreement this autumn. Of course, free-trade agreements take longer. What this is, is the immediate gains that what we can get for both countries, driving jobs and growth here in Britain and in India”, she told Sky News on Tuesday.

“We’ll be looking for early wins that we can gain for both countries,” Truss said. “For example, there are currently very high tariffs on cars into India and on products like whisky into India — we want to see those tariffs lowered or removed to benefit industries here in Britain.”