The Prime Minister travelled to India last week making huge progress on a post-Brexit trade deal. Mr Johnson told negotiators to get a free trade agreement (FTA) done by Diwali, in October, as he celebrated a “massive push” during the meeting in New Delhi on Friday.
Now the EU Commission President will also seek to increase sales of European military equipment to India and relaunch talks on a free trade deal when she meets India’s prime minister in New Delhi today.
Ms von der Leyen’s visit is part of Western efforts to encourage India to reduce its ties to Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The EU chief aims to agree with India’s premier, Narendra Modi, to set up a new trade and technology council similar to an EU-US model, which could discuss digital privacy, regulation of technology companies and social media platform supervision, a senior EU official said.
The EU and India will also likely agree to relaunch free trade talks, which were frozen in 2013 over differences including tariff reductions and patent protection, and have not moved forward significantly since an EU-India virtual summit in May 2021.
India, the world’s second-most populous country with nearly 1.4 billion people, is seen by the EU as a crucial ally to help manage China’s rise from a benign trading partner to a rival power with a growing military presence.
A 2020 study by the European Parliament put the benefits of a trade deal for the EU with India at up to 8.5 billion euros, although the estimate was made before Britain’s departure from the bloc.
Boris Johnson said a free-trade agreement would help India sell more rice and textiles to Britain.
British trade with India, the world’s second-most populous country with nearly 1.4 billion people, was worth £23 billion in 2019, much lower than the UK’s trade with some much smaller economies such as Ireland.
Johnson said that during his trip he had felt like Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, as hundreds of people lined the streets and dozens of billboards depicted his image.
“I had an amazing reception,” he said. “My face was everywhere to be seen.”
More to follow…