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India next target for trade deal

The UK government is in negotiations with the Indian government over potential trade deals, with some potentially exciting outcomes for agriculture.

With the second largest population in the world, a fast-growing economy and a growing middle class sector, the market could be ripe for British products, particularly lamb and dairy.

Certainly the UK’s chief negotiator, international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, is excited by what she terms a “golden opportunity”.

There is currently little trade at the moment between India and the UK in terms of meat and cereals, largely due to tough market protection regulations, including high average tariff rates and a large number of non-tariff measures.

The India market has proven tough for other counties, such as New Zealand and Australia to break into: among the main difficulties in these cases are India’s stringent sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

Also, in previous trade deals with New Zealand and Australia, animal welfare standards have been a major discussion point. But the UK-India agreement is more likely to focus on human rights.

The Indian government has been locked in a battle with its farmers over a contentious farm bill. Many farmers lost their livelihoods and the suicide rate has been high.

Although the situation has eased, the protests may yet have a bearing on any deal.

That is because the UK government’s trade bill includes amendments that ensure any agreements with other countries meet requirements on human rights and genocide.

The government must conduct a risk assessment to determine whether a trade agreement complies with the UK’s human rights obligations.

Photo credit: Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash