Great Britain will start trade talks with India for a bilateral deal as it redraws economic ties with the world after being forced by a referendum vote to leave the European Union.
UK's Business Secretary Sajid Javid will start a world tour with a visit to India where he would hold talks with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as well as Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to start the trade talks that will eventually lead to a bilateral deal.
He arrived here as the UK looks at bilateral deal to replace agreements the EU has with more than 50 countries. "Business Secretary Sajid Javid will kick off preliminary trade talks with India... when he meets the Indian Finance and Commerce Ministers during a series of discussions in Delhi," a UK government statement said.
His visit to India comes after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne met a Chinese government delegation in London on Thursday to foster "stronger trade ties" with the world's second largest economy. "Following the referendum result, my absolute priority is making sure the UK has the tools it needs to continue to compete on the global stage," Javid said in the statement.
"That is why I am in India today to launch these initial trade discussions. There is a strong bilateral trade relationship between our two countries and I am determined that we build on this." Over the coming months, he would hold similar meetings with other key trade partners, outlining the Britain's vision for future trade relationship.
"As part of the discussions, the Business Secretary is expected to make clear that he would like the UK and India to have a trade agreement in place as soon as possible after the UK leaves the EU," the statement said.
The Business Secretary will also be in Mumbai to meet senior Tata Group board members to discuss the ongoing sale of their UK steel-making assets. UK is the largest G20 investor in India, while India invests more in the UK than the rest of the European Union combined. India has also emerged as the third largest source of FDI for the UK.
Last year, bilateral trade in goods and services between the two countries was 16.55 billion pound. The UK was the third largest investor in India during April 2000 to September 2015, with cumulative inflows of 22.5 billion pounds.
Talks in India will be the first in a series of trade meetings Javid will conduct over the coming months, which also is expected to include trips to the USA, China, Japan and South Korea.
"The Business Secretary has also confirmed that to aid in discussions, the government plans to rapidly build its trade capability up to 300 specialist staff, including new trade negotiators by the end of the year," the statement added.