British PM to visit India seeking to boost post-Brexit trade relations
Abhishek G Bhaya
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. /Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. /Reuters

The UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to India next month to kick off a campaign for 'Global Britain' as London seeks new trade partners post-Brexit, his office announced in a statement on Tuesday. This will be Johnson's first major bilateral visit since taking office in July 2019, and the first since UK's departure from the EU.

The trip is aimed at strengthening bilateral trade ties and investment, and cooperation in various areas including defense, security, health and climate change; and underlines the British leader's commitment to step up the UK's engagement with the Indo-Pacific region, according to the statement.

"I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that [Indian] Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi and I have pledged to achieve," Johnson said in a statement.

"As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet," he added

Modi had last month, in a phone conversation, invited Johnson to be the chief guest at India's annual Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi on January 26. He will be only the second British leader since Indian independence to attend India's Republic Day parade as Guest of Honour, after John Major in 1993.

The British Prime Minister, while accepting the invitation, in return extended an invitation to India to join next year's G7 Summit, which will be hosted by the UK, as one of the three guests alongside South Korea and Australia.

"The trip in January will kick off a significant year for Global Britain on the world stage. In 2021, the UK will host both the G7 Leaders' Meeting and COP26 Summits, as well as a global education conference aimed at getting girls into school, and an event to mark the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in 1946," Johnson's office said.

The statement highlighted the flourishing bilateral trade and investment relationship, which it said is worth 24 billion British pounds ($32 billion) annually and supports more than half a million jobs in the UK. "There are 842 Indian companies in the UK with a combined turnover of 41.2 billion British pounds, creating jobs in all four corners of the United Kingdom."

In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the countries have augmented cooperation in the pharma and healthcare sector.

"As the 'Pharmacy of the World', India supplies more than 50 percent of the world's vaccines, with over a billion doses of the UK's Oxford/AstraZeneca [COVID-19] vaccine being manufactured at India's Serum Institute in Pune," the British Prime Minister's office noted.

"Our countries have cooperated closely throughout the coronavirus outbreak to maintain the flow of medical goods for our citizens. The UK has received 11 million face masks and three million packets of paracetamol from India during the pandemic, and we continue to work together to keep vital supply chains open," it added.


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