British trade minister to hold talks with Indian counterpart on trip

FILE PHOTO: The Ukraine Recovery Conference in London

By Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) - British trade minister Kemi Badenoch will hold talks with her Indian counterpart this week in New Delhi, her office said on Thursday, but an agreement on trade is unlikely to be struck as further negotiations are scheduled for later in the year.

Talks over a future Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have made progress in recent months, British and Indian sources have said, fuelling hopes a deal could be reached this year.

But British government sources played down expectations that a deal would be done by a G20 meeting in the Indian city of Jaipur this week, with further FTA talks expected in September, after Badenoch's visit.

"There is a great deal to be done with India, but what happens in the negotiating room will govern the timeline," a government source said.

"We've made progress but talks are focused on complex and technical areas including goods, services, and investment."

On a three-day trip, Badenoch will meet Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal in New Delhi after attending a G20 trade ministers meeting in Jaipur on Thursday and Friday.

The trade ministry announced on Thursday a new UK-India marketing campaign to boost trade and investment links, aiming to double trade with India by 2030 with targeted trade missions in high growth sectors such as higher education and agri-tech.

"I'm delighted to be returning to India to support their G20 Presidency, further our trade talks and meet key business leaders," Badenoch said in a statement.

She will also meet the chair of Tata Sons after the group said it would build an electric vehicle battery plant in Britain to supply its Jaguar Land Rover factories, delivering a major boost for the UK car industry.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Mark Potter)