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Articles/analysis regarding India - UK relations collected here.
 

Nilgiri

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When the United Kingdom (UK) releases the highly anticipated integrated review of its foreign, defence, security and development policy in March, it will mark the first formal iteration of the UK’s Indo-Pacific strategy. This brief explores the dynamics that are driving the UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific. It identifies three key drivers that are prompting the shift: a reappraisal of China, the economic fallout of Brexit, and the UK’s close ties with the US. It explores the emerging trends in this churn—across security, trade, development, and diplomatic domains—and highlights the opportunities they afford the India-UK relationship.


Attribution: Harsh V Pant and Tom Milford, The UK Shifts to the Indo-Pacific: An Opportunity for India-UK Ties,” ORF Issue Brief No. 444, February 2021, Observer Research Foundation.

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As a representation of the ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ in the UK’s foreign policy, the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier – the largest ship ever built by the Royal Navy – will sail to India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the wider region. The Carrier will visit West Coast Ports where it will engage in a series of events to maximise bilateral relations benefitting both countries’ trade and political alliances. The ship will conduct a series of joint exercises with Indian Military Forces in the Indian Ocean, expanding our interoperability and enhancing our capabilities to defend against shared threats and protect our democratic values.

Throughout the deployment, the UK will support freedom of passage through vital global trading routes and demonstrate commitment to a recognised international system of norms and behaviours that benefit all countries. It will also help to establish a maritime partnership with India to support our mutual security objectives in the Indian Ocean.

The UK Government’s landmark review of foreign, defence, development and security policy, published last month, committed the UK to becoming the European country with the broadest, most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific in support of trade, shared security and values.

UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace MP, said:​

The UK and India are natural defence partners, particularly in world class research, development and training. The Carrier Strike Group’s collaboration with India will build the foundations for this relationship to flourish even further.
The deployment is a symbol of Global Britain in action, and powerfully demonstrates our commitment to India, the Indo-Pacific region, and confronting threats to international order.
Last December, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab travelled to meet Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar in New Delhi to make progress towards agreeing a landmark UK-India roadmap for greater joint cooperation, including on defence and security, trade, health and climate change.

Later this year, the UK has invited Prime Minister Modi to attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall, UK, in recognition of India’s role as the world’s largest democracy and as a vital partner to the UK in tackling global challenges like climate change and coronavirus.

The Carrier Strike Group will travel over 26,000 nautical miles from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea.

Further information​

The Strike Group will also comprise Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and tanker and storage ships Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.

On the flight deck there will be eight F-35B Lightning II fast jets, four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine and airborne early warning helicopters, and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters.

The UK and India have a bi-annual exercise programme across all the services where Indian and British forces undertake joint exercises: Exercise Ajeya Warrior for the Army, Exercise Konkan for the Navy, and Exercise Indra Dhanush for the Air Force.

The UK has the world’s fifth largest defence budget – highest in Europe and second highest in NATO. It is also the second largest defence exporter in the world.
 

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UK, India to start formal FTA talks within months

Britain and India will begin formal free trade deal talks later this year, the UK government said Tuesday, after they agreed on an initial package to boost bilateral trade and investment.
With its massive population and growing economy, India has been high on London's list of trade deal targets since Britain left the European Union last year.

Under a post-Brexit "Global Britain" strategy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is pivoting its foreign policy priorities towards the Asia-Pacific region, signing trade deals with countries, including Japan and Singapore.

UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said India and Britain would start negotiations on an agreement "in the autumn," following the announcement of a preliminary "Enhanced Trade Partnership" deal.
"We want to get these negotiations completed as soon as possible," she told Sky News during a round of broadcast interviews touting the partnership package worth 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion).
"Of course, FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) take longer, this is the immediate gains that we can get for both countries, driving jobs here in Britain and in India," Truss added.

She said both countries were looking for "early wins" reducing barriers to trade from an FTA, noting Britain wants tariffs lowered or removed on various exports to India, from cars to whiskey.
The comments come ahead of virtual talks between Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi later on Tuesday.

That follows Johnson postponing for a second time an official visit to India last month, due to the worsening coronavirus situation there.

"Self-reliant India"

The partnership announcement with India includes lower trade barriers for some UK exports such as fruit and medical devices.

It also includes investment in Britain by vaccine maker the Serum Institute of India, which could eventually see more of its inoculations made in the UK.

Johnson's office said it expects the deal preceding FTA talks to create over 6,500 jobs.
But there are signs India may be reluctant to sign a more wide-ranging trade pact, as Modi pushes "Made in India" and "Self-Reliant India" agendas.

Last year he abruptly balked at joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among 15 Asia-Pacific nations, because New Delhi feared its agricultural, dairy and services sectors would be disadvantaged.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump disparaged India as the "tariff king" for its duties on imported goods, hobbling trade talks despite his friendly relations with Modi.

Talks are due to resume between India and the EU on a free trade deal later this month, eight years after 16 rounds of talks broke up in deadlock. Trade negotiations are also reportedly set to resume with Canada soon after a gap of four years.

Source(s): AFP

 

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The Enhanced Trade Partnership will unlock new opportunities for Indian businesses in the United Kingdom and British businesses in India, UK PM Boris Johnson tells TOI in an exclusive email interview.

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All three Services from the Indian & UK Armed Forces are exercising simultaneously during Konkan Shakti 21, the most ambitious exercise conducted by the two countries to date.​


Indian MoD press release


The maiden India – UK Joint Tri-Service exercise Ex KONKAN SHAKTI is scheduled in India between 21 – 27 Oct 21.

The maritime component of the exercise, to be conducted off the west coast of India, is scheduled to be held in two phases. The harbour phase is planned at Mumbai from 21 – 23 Oct 21, while at sea, the exercises will be conducted from 24 – 27 Oct 21. The naval linkages between India and the United Kingdom is one of antiquity and, over a period, it has grown substantially in terms of interoperability and synergy. Over decades now, both navies have undertaken bilateral exercises, exchanges and enhanced their technical cooperation. Rightly so, this has formed the basis for the maiden tri-service bilateral exercise, ‘Konkan Shakti -21’.

FCiwYxuXoAUKaG1.jpg


Royal Navy (RN) will be represented by its aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, with her integral F35 fighter aircraft and helicopters, the Type 45 Daring Class air-defence destroyer HMS Defender, the Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Victoria, and a Royal Netherland Navy Frigate HNLMS Evertsen. The Indian Navy (IN) would be represented by three of its indigenously built stealth guided missile destroyers INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai, two stealth frigates, INS Talwar and INS Teg, and the tanker INS Aditya. The IN will also be participating with integral Sea King 42B, Kamov-31 and Chetak helicopters, MIG 29K fighter aircraft, Dornier and P8i (maritime patrol aircraft) and a submarine. The exercise will also see participation by IAF aircraft that include Jaguars, SU-30 MKI fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Flight Refueling Aircraft.

The exercise at sea will feature advanced warfare tactics, Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises, over-the-horizon targeting drills, Air Defence Exercise, Cross Deck landings and other complex manoeuvers at sea. The joint phase of the exercise would also include air-tactical operations involving F35Bs, MiG 29Ks and Indian Air Force elements. To facilitate smooth execution of the exercise, the harbour phase will see active interaction between planners of both navies, exchange of information by respective subject matter experts, and interaction of personnel participating in the exercise. Earlier, the Indian Air Force participated in an operational engagement with the UK CSG on 19 and 20 Oct 21. The exercise focused on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability and exchange of best practices.

FCiwYxyWEAY_uXR.jpg


The land phase of the exercise is being conducted between Indian Army and UK Army at Chaubatia from 21 –27 October 2021 under the aegis of Golden Key Division of Surya Command. UK Army is being represented by officers and troops of the 1st Battalion of the Fusilier Regiment and the Indian Army is represented by the troops of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles. The Joint Company Level Exercise between the two nations is aimed at training troops in conduct of Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Operations by coalition forces in an opposed environment.

The tri-service exercise KONKAN SHAKTI aims to derive mutual benefits from each other’s experiences and also showcase the continuing cooperation between the two countries. Maritime cooperation is a distinguishable symbol of the commitment of both nations in ensuring a positive climate at sea for enhancing strategic stability and promoting global economic prosperity. The interoperability achieved over the years, as a result of such exercises, has proved to be operationally beneficial to armed forces of both countries.

-End-


++++

I wish one of our carriers could take part in the exercises...but Vikramaditya is undergoing refit at Karwar while Vikrant is on sea trials. It COULD be possible (if they planned for it) for the HMS QE to link up with Vikrant for a photo-op toward the end of the exercise (as it sails back toward Suez Canal).

:love:
 

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Srinagar, Oct 28: Chief of British Army General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith on Thursday visited Srinagar-based Chinar Corps of the Indian Army.

FCyrHaPUUA46VLG.jpg


"General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff, #BritishArmy visited #ChinarCorps and interacted with Lieutenant General DP Pandey, GOC #ChinarCorps and local commanders," the Army said on its official Twitter handle.

There were no details provided about the visit of the British Army Chief to Kashmir.

FCyrHwDVEA8jovD.jpg


General Carleton-Smith is on a four-day visit to India. On Tuesday, he held talks with Army Chief General M M Naravane in Delhi with a focus on enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two armies.


++++

COMMENTS:

Far as I know, this is the first visit (in recent memory anyway) of a high-ranking foreign military official to the 'disputed' region. I won't read too much into the implications, but prominent analyst Prasun K. Sengupta has this to say:

"It can mean 2 things:

1) Whereas previously, only military attaches were allowed by the Govt of India to visit J&K, the allowing of a high-ranking military official to make an official visit indicates that the UK has at last discarded its earlier stance about J&K being a disputed territory & is now actively supporting India’s PoV about J&K being an integral part of India.

2) It can also be seen as a firm signaling by the UK to its PoK-orgin & Pakistan-origin citizens to fall in-line & stop indulging in unlawful acts like stabbing UK MPs & harassing Indian diplomats at the Indian High Commission in London. Lastly, it is also possible that just like the US Special Operations Command, the British Army wants to learn from the IA on the intricacies of high-altitude mountain warfare—something that should come in handy when operating in the northern portions of Afghanistan."

@Nilgiri @Paro @Zapper
 

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Srinagar, Oct 28: Chief of British Army General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith on Thursday visited Srinagar-based Chinar Corps of the Indian Army.

View attachment 34683

"General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff, #BritishArmy visited #ChinarCorps and interacted with Lieutenant General DP Pandey, GOC #ChinarCorps and local commanders," the Army said on its official Twitter handle.

There were no details provided about the visit of the British Army Chief to Kashmir.

View attachment 34684

General Carleton-Smith is on a four-day visit to India. On Tuesday, he held talks with Army Chief General M M Naravane in Delhi with a focus on enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two armies.


++++

COMMENTS:

Far as I know, this is the first visit (in recent memory anyway) of a high-ranking foreign military official to the 'disputed' region. I won't read too much into the implications, but prominent analyst Prasun K. Sengupta has this to say:

"It can mean 2 things:

1) Whereas previously, only military attaches were allowed by the Govt of India to visit J&K, the allowing of a high-ranking military official to make an official visit indicates that the UK has at last discarded its earlier stance about J&K being a disputed territory & is now actively supporting India’s PoV about J&K being an integral part of India.

2) It can also be seen as a firm signaling by the UK to its PoK-orgin & Pakistan-origin citizens to fall in-line & stop indulging in unlawful acts like stabbing UK MPs & harassing Indian diplomats at the Indian High Commission in London. Lastly, it is also possible that just like the US Special Operations Command, the British Army wants to learn from the IA on the intricacies of high-altitude mountain warfare—something that should come in handy when operating in the northern portions of Afghanistan."

@Nilgiri @Paro @Zapper
3) It states the UK stands by India diplomatically and considers the instability in Kashmir as Pakistan-made. This signals Pakistan to stop instigating terror in Kashmir as India needs to concentrate on the other front.

4) This could also be asking India to increase its engagement in Quad from a military perspective which India is reluctant to do.

The Americans sending Brits to do the first handshake in Kashmir is something interesting. My take is the US still needs Pakistan and wants to play neutral until the last minute but still engage in the narrative using its closest alies.
 

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Care to elaborate why exactly are we reluctant in this regard?

From an American perspective, the west is trying to use the Quad as an alliance to pull India into a military alliance. But from an Indian perspective, they are trying to leverage the quad to pull mission-critical manufacturing out of China and into India helping its economic growth and providing a geopolitical counterweight to Chinese economically while not getting into a military fight. Unlike the other 3 members of the quad, India has a significant labor cost advantage over China by almost 300% something that is going to sting China in the coming decade.

The Americans want India to play a similar role during a war with Taiwan as the Russians did to the Chinese during 1971. ie to mass troops over the border. But the Indians want the quad to be a general forum. Although quad is an informal security alliance, they don't it to sound like a military alliance.

The general forum approach maintains the independent foreign policy of India and has the capability to challenge the west in the future which is very very likely in just another decade. It is also useful to maintain neutral links with smaller countries around.

This is also the reason India won't buy any US weapons that have to be integrated into American satellites or GPS. The Indian army was against signing the necessary agreements like BECA which were eventually signed but there is an unspoken defacto banned by the Army and the Airforce, Navy is another story, which we can discuss later. This could also be the reason India went for s400 defying the American tow line.
 
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Nilgiri

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Care to elaborate why exactly are we reluctant in this regard?

They (US) need to prove what this CAATSA waiver thing is all about...making a few noises now, but there need to be solid resolution on it soon....

Till then India is not going to budge much on quad "improvement"....as status quo serves us ok for time being.

US also needs some time to sunset and stabilise its Af-Pak theatre stuff.....political and other blowback internally (on all sides) is just getting started....so India must wait, observe and see on that (past whatever is discussed at deep level with US well above our relative layman pay grades).

This decade overall is needed for India to sunset collab+inertia with Russia....it cannot be done in a few years time like some in US seem to squawk (in their rush to agglomerate Russia and China as the same threat.....stupidly IMO).

That is also dependent on how putin and whomever his successor is takes their relationship with PRC. Do they hold at current level, make it better or worse etc.
 

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The life and legacy of Indian independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi will be commemorated on a British special collectors’ coin for the first time, U.K. Treasury Chief Rishi Sunak announced Thursday.

The round coin, which features India’s national flower, the lotus, and a famous quote from Gandhi stating “My life is my message,” is part of the Royal Mint’s collection to mark the Hindu festival of Diwali.

The announcement marks the first time the man known for his non-violent protests for Indian independence will be commemorated on an official U.K. coin.

“As a practicing Hindu, I am proud to unveil this coin during Diwali,” Sunak said in a statement. “Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the movement for Indian independence and it is fantastic to have a U.K. coin commemorating his remarkable life for the first time.”

The 5-pound coin will be made in gold and silver, and has legal tender status, although it is not designed for general circulation. It will be on sale from Thursday to coincide with Diwali, along with 1g (0.035 oz) and 5g (0.18 oz) gold bars and the U.K.’s first gold bar depicting Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth.

Sunak commissioned a new “Diversity Built Britain” 50-penny coin last year as part of a campaign to fairly represent minority communities’ contributions across all walks of life. Around 10 million of the coins celebrating Britain’s diverse history went into circulation in October 2020.

Link

 

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India and Britain have launched talks on a free trade deal that is expected to boost bilateral trade by billions of dollars in one of the most ambitious negotiations after Brexit.

By Associated Press
Jan. 13, 2022, at 7:48 a.m.

FILE- Anne-Marie Trevelyan Secretary of State for International Trade speaks at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Trevelyan is in New Delhi and will meet with her Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal in New Delhi on Thursday, Jan. 13. India and Britain are launching talks on pursuing a free trade deal that is expected to boost bilateral trade by billions, making it among the most ambitious negotiations to take place after Brexit. (AP Photo/Jon Super, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


ASHOK SHARMA, Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — India and Britain on Thursday launched talks on a free trade deal that is expected to boost bilateral trade by billions of dollars in one of the most ambitious negotiations after Brexit.

Britain’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan met with Piyush Goyal, India's minister of commerce and industry, in New Delhi before formal talks next week.

"This is the first of my important agreements this year as Britain set out on her independent journey post-Brexit,″ Trevelyan told reporters.

She said the countries have a unique opportunity to build ties in trade, defense, climate and health as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goyal said the free trade agreement, expected to be finalized in one year, will double the current trade of $50 billion by 2030. A British government statement said the deal could potentially double U.K. exports to India and boost two-way trade by $38 billion a year by 2035.

Both sides hope the deal will bring huge benefits for several industries, from food and drink to cutting-edge renewable technology.

“A deal with India is a golden opportunity to put U.K. businesses at the front of the queue as the Indian economy continues to grow rapidly,” Trevelyan said, adding that Britain was keen to tap into the growing middle class in Asia's third-largest economy.

After leaving the European Union in 2016, Britain has focused its trade policies on the Indo-Pacific region. India, a former British colony, is viewed as a favorable location given uncertainties over the U.K.'s ties with China.

Investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the U.K., the British statement said.

Britain is angling for a deal that slashes barriers, including tariffs on exports of British-made cars and Scotch whisky.

India and Britain have extensive links, with the former investing in 120 projects to become the second-largest source of foreign direct investments after the United States in 2019.


=========================================



Policy paper

UK approach to negotiating a free trade agreement with India​

The UK’s objectives in trade negotiations with India.

 

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As a High Tory (an old English political ideology from the 1600's) I am totally and in all cases opposed to free trade or the lowering of barriers to trade between nations.

However given this is British geo-political strategic to replace EU trade with other nations trade in faster growing area's of the world, why wasn't this the first nation England sort trade agreement with? We have tried to get one with the US, but they want to basically steal our entire economy and bring it back to the US for access to part of their market. The trade agreements with Canada/Australia/New Zealand will be used to flood Britain with things we already produce here and out compete the local British economy, because the British state will be banned from protecting our economy by these agreements, in the same way as the EU. Oh and we are limited trade with Ulster, while create free trade with everybody else.

I would much rather have no external trade agreements, and simply remove limits on trade within the UK, in terms of regulations and businesses, so it is easier for people to create and run companies and work for them. Better, simpler contract laws in Britain and the removal of all the anti-discrimination laws in Britain, which limit free of association.
 

Nilgiri

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As a High Tory (an old English political ideology from the 1600's) I am totally and in all cases opposed to free trade or the lowering of barriers to trade between nations.

However given this is British geo-political strategic to replace EU trade with other nations trade in faster growing area's of the world, why wasn't this the first nation England sort trade agreement with? We have tried to get one with the US, but they want to basically steal our entire economy and bring it back to the US for access to part of their market. The trade agreements with Canada/Australia/New Zealand will be used to flood Britain with things we already produce here and out compete the local British economy, because the British state will be banned from protecting our economy by these agreements, in the same way as the EU. Oh and we are limited trade with Ulster, while create free trade with everybody else.

I would much rather have no external trade agreements, and simply remove limits on trade within the UK, in terms of regulations and businesses, so it is easier for people to create and run companies and work for them. Better, simpler contract laws in Britain and the removal of all the anti-discrimination laws in Britain, which limit free of association.

Boils down to knowing what you are good at and is it worth exchanging stuff for what others are good at.

UK has long been a sea power and trading nation across those seas (marred unfortunately by the colonialism as well).

It ought to have leadership class that is proficient in analysing and negotiating in good faith and best interest of its people (with regards to enriching by voluntary trade with others)

If British leadership class is not good at that, that needs the British people to fix that.
 

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Boils down to knowing what you are good at and is it worth exchanging stuff for what others are good at.

UK has long been a sea power and trading nation across those seas (marred unfortunately by the colonialism as well).

It ought to have leadership class that is proficient in analysing and negotiating in good faith and best interest of its people (with regards to enriching by voluntary trade with others)

If British leadership class is not good at that, that needs the British people to fix that.
Totally agree with this and I am trying to fix it. But it requires removing the EU and USA from Britain, totally rebuilding the British armed forces and restoring the English ruling class to power. The Ruling class in Britain hasn't done anything in the interests of the British people since the Napoleonic wars. Trade agreements never help anyone, on a case by case, business basis it can work. Like Sweden has wood, Britain needs wood and we give them sand from the Scottish seabed to build their buildings. But in terms of industry and sector wide trade agreements, they are terrible for Britain and always have been.
 

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