Boris Johnson instructed British negotiators that they increase their efforts to achieve an agreement by October’s festival of lights. Narendra Modi, his Indian counterpart, said that there had been a lot of progress.
Boris Johnson declared that he would like to sign a major trade agreement with India “done by Diwali”.
After talks with Narendra Modi, his Indian counterpart, the Prime Minister instructed British negotiators today to intensify their efforts to reach an agreement for the festival of light in October.
Officials stated that progress was made in four chapters of the agreement and that the focus will now shift to more difficult issues during the next round next week.
The PM spoke alongside Mr Modi and said: “As the next round of talks begin here next week, we’re telling our negotiators, get it done by Diwali in October.”
Modi stated that there was “good progress” in the talks and he hoped to “conclude the FTA by the end of this year.”
While signing a trade deal to India would be a coup, Johnson acknowledged there were some issues. “difficult issues”These include tariffs for Scotch whisky.
This would allow India to export whisky at a significant rate and the UK could lift tariffs on Indian textiles and rice.
Johnson made it clear that he is open to greater levels of immigration from India in order to be able to work in skilled jobs here.
He was then asked if allowing skilled workers from India would compromise the Brexit promises that he made regarding jobs for British workers.
Johnson stated: “The first challenge we have is to raise skills and expectations in our own country, get people into the jobs that we have. We have currently got around 500,000 jobs that aren’t filled, possibly 1.25m vacancies, we have 1.8m people unemployed.
“What I want to see is a lot of those people who are currently on the unemployment register off benefits and into work.”
However, he stated that there were some particular shortages like IT. “Indian skills can make a difference”.
The PM stated: “I’m going to prioritise skilling up the British people to do those jobs. But I’m not going to be dogmatic in refusing to allow people with skill and talent to aspire to come to the UK… all I would say is we need to control it.”
After the Partygate chaos that threatened to ruin the trip, Johnson wanted to shift the focus to trade.
He laughed about how he felt just like Sachin Tendulker in Indian cricket when he saw billboards featuring his face and cheering crowds welcoming him to Gujarat on Thursday.
Today, he was received at Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential residence with a ceremonial reception. Here, a military band played “God Save the Queen”.
Johnson said that he had been given a wonderful welcome by the media. He joked about it: “I wouldn’t get that necessarily everywhere in the world”.
He was asked if that is what he was. “absolutely sure” he would still be Prime Minister by October, Mr Johnson said: “Yes”.