INDIA, UK DISCUSS MULTILATERAL AND BILATERAL TRADE ISSUESINDO-UK TRADE CROSSES US $ 5 BILLION IN 2002-03
Date : 05 Jan 2004
Location : New Delhi
India and the United Kingdom (UK) have expressed their keenness to enhance bilateral trade from its current levels, which was in excess of US $ 5 billion in 2002-03. This was indicated by Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Mr. Mike O’Brien, British Trade Minister during discussions here today. The UK is the second largest trading partner of India. During the meeting, both the Ministers also emphasised the need to find a way out of the current impasse in WTO negotiations and to move the multilateral process forward. Shri Dipak Chatterjee, Commerce Secretary; Mr. Michael Arthur, the British High Commissioner and other senior representatives from both sides were present at the meeting.
Both the Ministers expressed disappointment at the current stalemate in the negotiations while exchanging views on developments after the Cancun Ministerial Conference. Mr. O’Brien said that it was disappointing not to have made much progress in the WTO General Council meeting in December 2003 and underlined the importance of finding a way out. In the context of agriculture, Shri Jaitley reiterated the sensitivity of the subsidies issue since 650 million people in the country were dependent on it.
Taking up bilateral issues, the British side raised the matter of high tariffs on scotch whisky and requested to abolish additional duties on spirits/wines. The Indian side pointed out the substantial reduction in tariff levels made in recent Budgets and said that the present duty was within the bound levels. Highlighting pharmaceuticals as a growth sector between the two countries, the British side sought some clarifications regarding intellectual property rights issues. They also evinced keen interest in financing of infrastructural projects in the sectors like highways, ports and railways. Shri Jaitley said that the Indian economy was doing well and it offered a large scope for British investment in India.