Indian PM Dials British Premier, Discusses Bilateral Ties

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Narendra Modi - Photo: mindthis.ca

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a phone call to his British counterpart Theresa May to congratulate the latter on her assumption of new responsibility.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has confirmed the news, saying in a statement that PM Modi affirmed New Delhi’s commitment to further strengthen the strategic partnership with London. During their telephonic conversation, the PM appreciated Britain’s consistent support to the South Asian country in various global fora.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister May thanked the Indian PM, saying that she was ready to working closely with Modi for enhancing bilateral co-operation in an attempt to tackle different global challenges.

According to the statement, the first contact between the two PMs was dominated by trade and investment, as Modi and May discussed different aspects of bilateral trade ties on Tuesday (July 26). Addressing a press conference, a senior spokesperson at 10, Downing Street said: “Trade and investment featured strongly in the conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who expressed hope that the relationship would become even stronger and closer in the future, particularly given the shared values and common interest.”

According to the spokesperson, Prime Minister May pointed out that the launch of the first rupee-denominated bond in London in August would be a concrete example of close and growing economic co-operation between the two countries. May further assured PM Modi that London would remain a global hub for innovative finance in the future. During his visit to London in November 2015, Modi took the initiative for raising funds in the British capital for India’s infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, Britain decides to strike a post-Brexit deal with India as a part of its plan to leave the European Union (EU). British Business Secretary Sajid Javid recently visited New Delhi to hold talks with Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the possibility of signing a separate bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

After his meeting with the Indian minister, Javid said that New Delhi was ready to sign the separate bilateral FTA with London. Sitharaman, too, welcomed the British proposal, saying: “Naturally…once the process of informal discussions starts then we get into discussions in detail. They will all fall into a formal framework…whether it is a preferential or a FTA that will be a mutually discussed matter.”

Javid described his meeting with Sitharaman as “very positive and constructive”, stressing that the two countries already have a very strong trade and investment ties. He told the media that the two governments would soon outline the vision “for what a future trade relationship between the UK and India might look like outside the EU”.

The British minister further said that the main purpose of his visit to India was to launch initial trade discussions. Javid expressed satisfaction over the current state of bilateral trade ties, saying that India has emerged as largest G20 investor in Britain. While India’s exports to the EU are USD 35.35 billion in 2016, its exports to Britain are USD 9.35 billion. Currently, India invests more in the UK than the rest of the European bloc combined. With this, India has emerged as the third largest source of FDI for Britain.

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