‘Ready to conclude FTA’: Keir Starmer to PM Modi in first call as UK PM

India and the UK have been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement for over two years when talks stalled amid general elections in both countries

Britain’s newly elected Prime Minister keir starmer  spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning and said he stood ready to conclude a Free Trade Agreement that worked for both sides, Downing Street said.

Keir Starmer, UK prime minister, delivers the first speech of his premiership, following the general election, outside 10 Downing Street in London, UK, on Friday, July 5, 2024. (Bloomberg)

India and the UK have been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for over two years with a Conservative Party-led government, but the talks were stalled in the 14th round amidst the general election cycles in both countries.

It is now expected to be picked up by the new Starmer-led Labour government, which was voted in with a landslide this week.

According to the Downing Street readout of the newly elected UK Prime Minister’s Indo-Pacific-related international calls on Saturday, the call with Modi seems to have been the first followed by Japan and Australia.

“The leaders exchanged congratulations on their respective election wins and reflected on the strength of the relationship between the UK and India,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“Discussing the Free Trade Agreement, the Prime Minister said he stood ready to conclude a deal that worked for both sides. The leaders hoped to meet at the earliest opportunity,” the spokesperson added.

Both sides have been working towards clinching a pact to enhance the GBP 38.1 billion bilateral trading partnership since January 2022, when Boris Johnson was the British prime minister.

The talks have since had to contend with political turmoil in the UK that first led to a short-lived Liz Truss premiership followed by Rishi Sunak as Britain’s first prime minister of Indian heritage.

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