Brexit: Simon Coveney shut down by host on UK-US trade deal
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Mr Johnson will visit the so-called “Asian tiger” at the end of April in what will be his first major international trip since the UK’s exit from the European Union. Downing Street told Express.co.uk the trip is part of efforts to boost UK opportunities in the region.
Mr Johnson is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom he also invited to the G7 Summit in Cornwall as a guest in June.
A spokesman said Boris Johnson’s Government would also “tilt” its focus towards the Indo-Pacific region as part of its Integrated Review of government policy, set to be announced today.
They said the area increasingly represented the geopolitical centre of the world, which includes India.
Mr Johnson will say in a statement to Parliament today: “I am profoundly optimistic about the UK’s place in the world and our ability to seize the opportunities ahead.”
Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, added: “India has not been enthusiastic about trade deals but we see a definite shift and a desire for bilateral trade deals including with us.”
Mr Ellis also played a key role in drafting the integrated defence review in his previous role as deputy UK national security advisor.
A Whitehall source told Express.co.uk the deal was “one of the biggest” since leaving the bloc, adding: “We are getting closer, Mr Johnson’s trip could make this Brexit bonanza happen.
“We are showing the EU we are truly a Global Britain, it must be disappointing to them.”
The EU vowed to deepen trade ties with India last year.
However, no mention was made of the time frame of a free trade agreement that has been under discussion for several years.
India and the UK signed an Enhanced Trade Partnership agreement last month which is seen as an initial springboard to securing a long-term trade deal with one of the world’s biggest economies.
Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss said India’s trade relationship was worth £23billion in 2019 with more than 383 Indian companies in the UK supporting 82,000 jobs.
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Last month, Britain also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), seeking membership of the 11-country bloc to open new avenues for post-Brexit trade and influence.
It has also applied to become a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Mr Johnson had set to be the main guest at the Republic Day celebrations during a planned visit to India in January, but it was called off the visit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time, the UK had announced that Johnson hoped to visit India in the first half of 2021.
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