UK–India free trade agreement: Scrutiny of the Government’s Negotiating Objectives Contents

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

The House of Lords International Agreements Committee (IAC), chaired by Baroness Hayter, has launched an inquiry into the UK-India trade negotiations.

This is a public call for written evidence to be submitted to the Committee.

In due course, we plan to produce a report on the UK Government’s Negotiating Objectives. While we may hold a small number of oral evidence sessions, please be aware that we will be particularly reliant on written evidence for this report.

The Committee’s scrutiny of these negotiations is considering a wide range of issues, and we expect this call for evidence to remain open until the agreement is signed, but we would be grateful for submissions on one, some or all of the points set out below by 23:59 on Sunday, 27 February, in the first instance.

Background

The Government launched the first round of trade negotiations with India on 17 January 2022. Future rounds of negotiations are expected to take place approximately every five weeks. India was the UK’s 15th largest trading partner in 2020. Total trade between the two countries was worth approximately £23.3bn in 2019 before falling to £18.3bn in 2020 due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Agreements Committee is responsible for scrutinising how the Government conducts international agreements, including trade treaties, and the final content of those agreements.

Inquiry focus

The Committee is interested in submissions on any and all aspects of a new UK-India trade agreement, but we are particularly keen to how it will affect consumers and businesses; and the likely economic, social, environmental and other impacts of the agreement.

We seek evidence on the following areas of interest, which are phrased as questions for the ease of respondents. Submissions need not address all questions.

Areas of interest

We welcome broad responses to general questions, as well as specific responses in relation to one or more of the key areas set out below.

1.What are the potential benefits for the UK of an FTA with India, and what are the potential downsides?

2.In what ways may the UK or specific sectors (e.g. education and research) benefit from relaxed visa rules for Indian citizens? Might India’s demands for relaxed visa rules go beyond what would benefit the UK economy? If so, how could such risks be mitigated?

3.How might an FTA with India impact the UK’s devolved nations and English regions, and how could their interests be best protected?

4.How do you evaluate the Government’s Negotiating Objectives (Outline Approach) and initial economic scoping assessment included in the Government’s strategic approach? Are the UK Government’s aims sufficiently ambitious? If you represent a sector, we would be interested to hear about any objectives your sector would like to see achieved.

5.What should UK negotiators be aiming for on tariffs, rules of origin, services, digital trade, intellectual property, mutual recognition and mobility?

6.How should consumer interests be promoted and protected?

7.What specific protections should be sought on the environment and climate? What is your assessment of how goods and services traded under an agreement with India could affect both countries’ carbon (and other greenhouse gas) emissions?

8.What protections should be sought on human, labour, women’s and minority rights?

9.What are the UK’s key defensive interests, i.e. sensitive areas where the UK should not make concessions during the negotiations?

10.What risks could a trade agreement with India pose to the UK’s food safety standards, animal and plant health or animal welfare standards? How could any such risks be mitigated?

11.How may an FTA with India affect UK trade with other developing countries; if there is a risk of trade diversion, how could this be mitigated?

12.The UK-India joint statement on the launch of the negotiations states that “both Governments will consider the option of an Interim Agreement that generates early benefits for both countries”. How desirable would it be for the UK to agree to such an interim or ‘early harvest’ deal?

13.How would you rate the Government’s mechanisms for engaging with stakeholders and seeking input into the negotiations? What is your assessment of how well Government departments are coordinating with each other to help deliver the best outcomes in the negotiations?





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