The comprehensive trade deal between India and United Kingdom is being touted to create substantial benefits for both countries by increasing trade and investment flows through removal of tarrif and non-tarrif barriers. The idea of the trade deal is to lower costs for consumers and increased competitiveness for businesses in both countries. Historically the relations between India and United Kingdom have been frosty, with the former imperialist nation is attempting to subvert our economy to help failing United Kingdom economy.
The Indo-UK Free Trade Agreement is detrimental to the interest of our nation. Several reports have emerged about influx of cheap imports from the UK could harm the livelihoods of Indian farmers and small businesses. United Kingdom is insisting India to drop patent evergreening laws, which will benefit UK pharma companies at the expense of Indian pharma industry which accounts for 20% global share in generic trade. The NHS — UK’s public healthcare system relies heavily on cheap generics imported from India. The clause if deleted will have detrimental affect on both Indian pharma industry and will escalate the cost of medicare in Britain. There are also concerns over intellectual property rights and data privacy, as well as the potential for the UK to use the FTA as a means of gaining greater access to the Indian market.
The nature of Free Trade Agreement seems to be tailormade to the advantage of United Kingdom rather than India. The soaring cost of living in United Kingdom has led to nationwide strike of 235,000 workers covering education and healthcare sectors as well. The IMF posted ominous warning about UK economy likely to contrat by 0.6% in the year 2023.
Professor Dr.Gautam Sen Retired Professor of International Political Economy at London School of Economics & Political Science has opined “The FTA between India and the UK would have a remarkable parallel with the system of Imperial Preference established at the Ottawa Conference of 1932. The system of trade preferences established at the time between Britain and its subservient Dominions was a response to the economic collapse of 1931.”
Signals are emerging for possibility of Indo-UK FTA would potentially facilitate back door entry for a post-Brexit UK into the EU as a result of it. There is likelihood of the Indo British FTA might back trade relations between the India and EU. The EU would not countenance such a perverse facilitation of British economic interests in the EU in the aftermath of Brexit. It might also be observed the EU as a whole is a much more important trading partner for India than a rapidly declining UK.
According to signals from the British establishment, the administration may be using coercive tactics to guarantee the FTA agreement is approved without change. Recent statements made by Indian born Home Secretary Suella Braverman regarding FTA would felicitate migration of Indians to United Kingdom and raised concern about Indians comprise the largest group of people who overstay their visas in the UK. The Home Secretary recently proposed the new Graduate Visa route would cut the stay of overseas students looking for job and gain work experience for up to two years without the requirement of a specific job offer.
The British Broadcasting Corporation’s controversial documentary “India: The Modi Question” demonstrates their biassed reporting and subpar journalism. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated in front of the UK Parliament that he disagrees with the BBC’s portrayal of the character. Additionally, it is rather obvious how the Sino-Pak lobby contributed to the documentary’s creation.
Since the proposed FTA’s contents are detrimental to our trade interests and not in either party’s best interests, India should, hopefully, put it on hold for the time being.