Kemi Badenoch will arrive in India on Monday for her final round of negotiations as she tries to revive hopes for a UK free trade agreement.
The government is still in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement with India after its goal of reaching a deal with Diwali in October fell.
The talks, which are expected to focus on an agreement to lower tariffs and create opportunities for UK financial and legal services, will be the first official round of negotiations since July.
The Minister of International Trade, who told MPs last month that he wants to move away from his department, which is seen as a “free trade department agreement”, is flying to New Delhi for the sixth round of negotiations, where he will meet his Indian counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, in person for the first time.
The visit will also include meetings with business leaders and UK companies.
Ms Badenoch said: “I am in New Delhi to meet in person with my counterpart, Minister Goyal, to initiate the sixth round of UK-India trade negotiations and move forward with this agreement.
“Both countries have come to the table with the highest ambitions and willingness to work together for a mutually beneficial deal. I am excited by the opportunities we can create for British business.”
Previous post-Brexit free trade deals have come under scrutiny after former environment secretary George Eustice claimed that the Australian deal “was not actually a very good deal” because the UK was “giving too much for too little in return”.
Mr. Eustice also criticized the approach taken by then-trade minister Liz Truss in pursuing deals, prompting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to promise “not to compromise quality for speed when it comes to trade deals”.
Sunak met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in Bali in November, where he discussed prospects for a bilateral free trade agreement.
Ms. Badenoch’s visit came as Pret A Manger, Revolut and fintech company Tide all plan to expand into India.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Ms. Badenoch signaled that the potentially difficult student visa issue would not be part of her negotiations.
In October, Home Secretary Suella Braverman was accused of undermining trade negotiations after she said the largest group of people in the UK who exceeded visa requirements were Indian immigrants.
Ms Badenoch said: “Student visas are a separate responsibility of the Home Office.
“So they don’t make a free trade agreement.
“Often FTAs get dragged into non-trade stuff… It’s very important to me to make sure we don’t let business negotiations turn into Home Office talks.”
He also told the newspaper that Sunak aroused “very warm feelings” in India.
Mr. Sunak was born in Hampshire, southeast England, to an Indian immigrant parent (a pharmacist mother and a GP father) and is married to Akshata Murty, the daughter of NR Narayana Murthy, founder of Indian IT giant Infosys, and they have two children together. daughters Krishna and Anoushka.
Ms. Badenoch said: “I think there are a lot of warm feelings towards him from India as he is of Indian descent.
It’s not specifically about the deal, but it all helps in terms of having good relations between countries.”