The UK said on Tuesday it has agreed to increase cooperation with India in areas including trade, science and health as Indian authorities fight an escalation of coronovirus infections that endanger the nation’s health care system.
Plans for a “quantum leap” in relations between the two countries were released following a video meeting between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Prior to the meeting, the UK announced £ 1 billion ($ 1.4 billion) trade deals with India, including an investment by the Serum Institute of India that would assist in the development of vaccines against COVID-19 and other diseases .
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The two leaders agreed to deepen relations between the UK and India over the next decade, including plans to negotiate a free trade agreement and double the volume of trade between the two over the next decade. A free-trade deal with India, the world’s sixth-largest economy, would be a coup for Johnson’s government, which has been trying to expand its trade with countries outside the European Union since the UK explosion.
Historical ties between Britain and India have been exposed in recent times as the British government and its citizens rush to help a country struggling with oxygen shortages amidst a worsening coronovirus outbreak on medicines and hospital beds .
In Britain, home to around 1.6 million people of Indian origin, many have been overwhelmed by images of mass cremations and struggling to cope with the increasing number of critically ill patients.
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In a demonstration of the deep connection between Britain and India, in the past week, the British people along with their thousands of people stepped in to support our Indian friends. Johnson said after the meeting. “This connection will only grow in the next decade as we make more efforts to tackle the world’s biggest problems and improve life for our people.”
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Also on Tuesday, British authorities announced an agreement with India to resolve long-term migration issues. This agreement will make it easier for the UK to return those Indian nationals who have no legal right to stay in the UK. The agreement opened up new avenues for young professionals to live and work in two countries for two years.
The British government said the trade package included a £ 240 million ($ 332 million) investment in the UK by Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, which would support clinical trials, research and possibly vaccine production. The Serum Institute, in association with Kodagenics, has initiated an early-stage trial of a one-dose nasal vaccine against COVID-19.
Trade between Britain and India is worth £ 23 billion ($ 31.9 billion) annually, less than 5% of Britain’s trade with the European Union.
Britain included India in its “Red List” of countries with high coronavirus outbreaks on 23 April, banning arrivals to anyone from India except UK citizens and residents. The move added a sense of isolation and helplessness to many people in Britain who feel disconnected from their loved ones in India.
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