Editorial: London bridge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson held a Virtual Summit Tuesday. A ‘Roadmap 2030’ was adopted at the summit to elevate bilateral ties to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’. The Roadmap will pave the way for a deeper and stronger engagement over the next ten years in the key areas of people to people contacts, trade and economy, defence and security, climate action and health, said an official statement.

The two leaders discussed the Covid-19 situation and ongoing cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, including the successful partnership on vaccines. Modi thanked Johnson for the medical assistance provided by the UK in the wake of the severe second wave of Covid-19 in India. Johnson appreciated India’s role in extending assistance to the UK and other countries over the last year, including by way of supply of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

The two Prime Ministers launched an ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ (ETP) to unleash the trade potential between the fifth and sixth largest economies of the world and by setting an ambitious target of more than doubling bilateral trade by 2030. As part of the ETP, India and the UK agreed on a roadmap to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA, including consideration of an Interim Trade Agreement for delivering early gains. The enhanced trade partnership between India and UK is expected to generate several thousands of direct and indirect jobs in both the countries.

The UK is India’s second largest partner in research and innovation collaborations. A new India-UK ‘Global Innovation Partnership’ was announced at the Virtual Summit that aims to support the transfer of inclusive Indian innovations to select developing countries, starting with Africa. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation on new and emerging technologies, including Digital and ICT products, and work on supply chain resilience. They also agreed to strengthen defence and security ties, including in the maritime, counter-terrorism and cyberspace domains.  Both Prime Ministers also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and G7. They reiterated commitment to climate action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and agreed to closely engage in the run up to CoP26 hosted by the UK later this year. India and the UK launched a comprehensive partnership on migration and mobility that will facilitate greater opportunities for the mobility of students and professionals between the two countries. Welcome moves.

NT Bureau