Senior Indian diplomat: Britain must accept more immigration if it wants a free trade deal

Posted On: 
24th November 2017

Britain will have to accept greater levels of immigration from India if it wants to strike a free trade deal with the country after Brexit, a senior diplomat has warned.

Theresa May in India last year
PA Images

YK Sinha, India’s High Commissioner to the UK, said although it could be a “winning partnership”, a trade deal cannot be a “one way street”. 

He also warned an agreement may not be in place until 2030 as he admitted the two countries are yet to begin talks about a post-Brexit pact.

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Mr Sinha told Indian business leaders in London: “When we look at a winning partnership we need to see all the facets of the partnership,

“It has to be mutually beneficial, it can’t be a one-way street. For instance, you’ve all read about issues of freer mobility of professions. That is something right up there as far as India is concerned.”

The senior official said India wanted to expand the benefits of being a Commonwealth country to include free movement of people and professionals.

“I’m not talking about unfettered access or unrestricted travel, I’m talking about movement of professionals, movement of doctors, technicians, engineers. I think both sides will benefit from this exchange and obviously it has to be a two-way exchange not just one way,” he said.

“These are important aspects of what could be a winning partnership in 2030,” he said. “I do hope we have that winning partnership much before 2030, certainly by 2030, when India will perhaps be the third largest economy in the world.” 

He also told the Indian Professionals Forum, talks between the UK and India “hadn’t even started...yet”. 

A spokeswoman for the International Department of Trade said: “The UK cannot negotiate free trade agreements whilst still a member of the EU.

"However, we have started a number of working groups, including with India, to begin discussions on our future trading relationships so we can address barriers, liberalise trade and secure a more outward-looking global market for British businesses when we leave the EU."