Kemi Badenoch close to blockbuster India trade deal before Christmas

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Brexit Britain is close to signing a major “game changing” trade deal with India which will boost the economy by billions, a leading trade export has told

Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export and International Trade (IoE), believes the deal is now imminent and could be signed in the coming weeks “before Christmas”.

The leading trade expert, who is consulted by Kemi Badenoch’s Department for Business and Trade (DBT), said the deal on reducing tariffs on whisky alone “is worth billions for the British economy”.

There had been speculation it would be signeed in time for the G20 in Delhi when the Prime Minister visited.

But arguments over Indian demands for more work and student visas to the UK were among a number of issues to hold things up.

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Mr Forgione said: “I think the vast majority of the chapters are done. The ones that remain are the tricky ones and there is a resolution to find a way forward.”

He added: “The mood music sounds very good and I hear that from both sides. So, hopefully, it’ll be this side of Christmas.”

Mr Forgione singled out Rishi Sunak for praise for his leadership on negotiating the deal saying the Prime Minister’s personal involvement and family connections to India had been a major boost.

He said: “I actually think that the Prime Minister is to be congratulated. Because his his commitment to this trade agreement has huge sway in India.

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“He has had a significant impact on helping to progress.

“The conversations, I think, can be buttoned up and the team have done brilliantly to secure the negotiations and agreement and to address a lot of the key challenging conversations.

“They’ve been really determined and focused and have negotiated in the best interest for the UK with the support of the Prime Minister which, I think, has moved things along way.”

Mr Forgione said the deal would be a “game changer for the UK, putting it alongside the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership with 11 nations earlier this year.

He explained: “It is a massive trade deal for the UK to have access to for British products to have full access into the Indian market as well as UK professional services with potential access to Indian government contracts.

“This is huge. Absolutely huge. Infrastructure alone is a huge potential for the UK.

“There’s an awful lot that is positive, the detail that I’ve heard is a huge, huge win both for the UK and India.”

Mr Forgione admitted though that there are still major sticking points including over migration.

“The big issues are on visas, there are issues on access to professional services. There are issues on rules of origin, I think some of the key areas.”

However, he added: “This is the biggest trade deal India will ever have done.”

He noted that the reduction of tariffs on whicky could double the market share of scotch in India.

“Because of the size of the India market that would be worth billions. It would be a huge achievement.”

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