‘Ready to conclude FTA’: UK PM Keir Starmer to Modi in first call after assuming office

PM Modi invited Starmer to India

India-UK relations UK PM Keir Stramer (left) and PM Narendra Modi (right)

United Kingdom's newly-elected Prime Minister Keir Starmer on Saturday spoke with PM Narendra Modi and said he stood ready to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that worked for both sides.

For over two years, India and the UK have been negotiating an FTA with the Conservative Party-led government. However, the talks stalled in the 14th round amid the general elections in both countries. 

In a statement, PMO’s office confirmed that Modi spoke with Starmer and congratulated him on the poll victory. Stressing the need to further strengthen the India-UK ties, Modi had invited the new PM to India as well.

Also Read | PM Modi invites newly elected UK counterpart Keir Starmer to India; agrees to finalise FTA

Downing Street in an official release said that PM Starmer looked forward to further deepening the strong and respectful relationship between both India and UK. Starmer welcomed PM Modi’s leadership on key global challenges, such as climate change and economic growth, the spokesperson said. 

During the first call between the leaders, the importance of the living bridge between both countries and the 2030 Roadmap were points of discussion. Also, the leaders agreed there was a wide range of topics including defence and security, critical and emerging technology, and climate change, for the two countries to deepen cooperation on.  

While discussing the FTA, Starmer said he stood ready to conclude a deal that worked for both sides. Also, the leaders hoped to meet soon to discuss the wide range of issues, the spokesperson said. 

Both sides have been working towards clinching a pact to enhance the GBP 38.1 billion bilateral trading partnership since January 2022, when Boris Johnson was the British prime minister. However, the talks did not properly progress due to the political turmoil in the UK. 

The new Starmer-led government's new Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, is also on the record saying that he wants to finish the job on the FTA and he plans to visit India within the first month of being elected.

“My message to [Finance] Minister Sitharaman and [Trade] Minister Goyal is that Labour is ready to go. Let's finally get our free trade deal done and move on, he said at the India Global Forum in London last week,” said Lammy. 

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