When Britain’s Pain Is EU’s Gain

Some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) believe that Brexit could help the European Union (EU) strike a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India in near future.
A senior MEP, who wished to remain anonymous, recently said in Brussels that Britain’s decision to leave the EU would allow the 27-member bloc to strike a trade deal with India despite the fact that Britain maintains ‘closer’ ties with its former colony. He also said that MEPs have prepared a document after analysing the impact of Brexit on the EU’s trade talks around the world. As per the document, although India’s desire to maintain tariffs on scotch and whisky has hindered the progress on an EU-India deal, the South Asian powerhouse may soften its stand because of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to ask the skilled Indian workers to leave her country.
The MEP has expressed hope that PM May’s decision will encourage India to strengthen trade ties with other European countries. The document states: “Given the important Indian diaspora living in the UK and the common past, the UK tends to attach particular importance to its economic relations to India. However, trading ties are more important with other EU member states.”
As per the document, Germany has emerged as the most important trading partner for India in recent times (rank No. 6). As far as Britain is concerned, it figures only rank 18 between Kuwait and Iran. Even Scotland is eager to sign an FTA with India, which is considered as the world’s largest market for whisky. If the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi agrees to lower tariffs for Scottish whisky, then Scotland will grab the important market opportunity.
After visiting India in November 2016, Prime Minister May described New Delhi and London as natural partners. But, her move to restrict the right of Indian students to stay in Britain after graduation irked New Delhi. Chairman of India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs Shashi Tharoor stressed that the May administration’s refusal to allow greater access to the UK for skilled Indian workers would prove to be “detrimental” to future bilateral relations. The seasoned Indian parliamentarian advised the Modi government to explore ways to boost ties with the EU.
Foreign policy experts are of the opinion that members of the European bloc should grab this opportunity and explore new business opportunities in India.

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