India, UK seek stronger ties in post-Brexit, Covid-19 era

New Delhi, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- India and the United Kingdom are set to boost bilateral tries in the post-Covid and post-Brexit era, in which both nations have been forced to rethink their ties and plan economic recoveries, as the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met his Indian counter part S Jaishankar in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“The (UK) Foreign Secretary comes at a very important time (…) because we are looking at a post-COVID world (…) and also looking at a post-Brexit world from the perspective of the UK. So this is a right time really for us to put our heads together and discuss where are we, how the world looks, where our interest can merge, what can we do together,” Jaishankar said in a joint press conference.

He added that India’s invitation to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be the guest of honor at the Republic Day celebrations on Jan. 26 “would be, in a way, symbolic of a new era, a new phase of our relationship.”

Raab said that the timing of the visit was mainly due to the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic rather than UK’s exit from the European Union. However, he agreed that it was an ideal moment for London to discuss its new geopolitical position at a crucial time globally.

“As we are coming to the end of the transition period of the Brexit phase, we are looking out to the world, I think we can expect United kingdom to be more active and energetic,. In particular we’re talking about the Indo-pacific and the opportunity of trade investment here and in the region, and also an opportunity to be an even stronger force to the good in the world,” he said.

“Sometimes we’ve particularly focused just on Europe, which is why actually one of the advantages of leaving the transition period is that we are going to control our ability to make trade deals with the rest of the world,” the secretary added.

On the first day of his visit Raab held a bilateral meeting with his counterpart that lasted almost four hours and included topics related to trade, defense, security, climate change and healthcare.

The foreign secretary is set to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to discuss a roadmap for the next 10 years of bilateral ties, with both sides calling the period a “new era” in relations.

After leaving the European Union, London has independently pursued its own trade deals with countries such as the United States, Japan, India and Australia.

India and the UK have in the past held discussions over a possible free trade agreement after Brexit to boost bilateral investment, which currently stands at over $25 billion and grew by 11 percent during the last financial year according to official data. EFE-EPA


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