Diwali deadline no longer the goal for free trade pact with India, says UK trade minister

Diwali deadline no longer the goal for free trade pact with India, says UK trade minister

The free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with India are no longer working towards a Diwali deadline, UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has confirmed.

During a visit to a Scotch whisky distillery on Thursday, the Cabinet minister in charge of the FTA negotiations at the Department for International Trade (DIT) said the deal being lined up with India would bring great wins for the industry as the steep tariffs of up to 150 per cent are set to be slashed.

However, while the negotiations are progressing well, signing a draft agreement by October 24 is no longer the goal.

“We are close. We’re still working on a deal. One of the things that has changed is that we are no longer working to the Diwali deadline,”

“We’ve closed a lot of chapters (the sections for the negotiating text). The negotiations are progressing well. But we want to focus on the quality of the deal rather than the speed of the deal. Given the changes that have taken place – not just in government but the mourning period (for the Queen) and so on, it makes sense for us to focus on the deal rather than the day,” she said.

This marks the first official confirmation that both sides are no longer considering Diwali as the closing date for the majority of the deal, with the DIT previously only saying that the government “won’t sacrifice quality for speed”.

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