Foreign Secretary’s statement during visit to India: Tuesday 15 December

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Good afternoon, thank you all for joining us and thank you Minister Jaishankar for your very warm welcome here in Delhi.

Can I just start by saying what huge admiration I have for this country. You are the world’s largest democracy.

The country with one of the highest number of scientists and engineers, a leader in tech, a leader in solar and wind energy, and a huge presence on the global stage.

So it’s a great pleasure to be here with Dr Jaishankar and to discuss our shared plans for an even closer future relationship.

We agreed on the key elements of a 10-year UK-India roadmap so that we can deliver a step change in ambition for the relationship between our two countries.

We look forward to taking this forward in 2021 – including through the UK’s Presidency of the G7 and also our Presidency of the UN Climate Change Conference, and as we see and welcome India return to the UN Security Council.

It is very much with that in mind I am pleased that Prime Minister Johnson has invited Prime Minister Modi to join the UK-hosted the G7 Summit next year. Prime Minister Johnson has also gratefully accepted the very generous invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebration in January which is a great honour.

I think we share the belief that we can do even more together on our shared priorities in the months and years ahead.

For the UK, we see those priorities along the following lines.

First of all, we want to deepen our economic partnership. We already have a strong and growing trade relationship. In the year before the pandemic hit, bilateral trade between India and the UK grew at a vibrant 11%.

Our investment relations supports over half-a-million jobs in each other’s economies – including many UK jobs in tech and telecoms.

Now what we want to do is take that up to another level working towards agreeing an enhanced trade partnership next year – which itself we hope will be a stepping stone towards a future Free Trade Agreement.

I think that could unlock huge opportunities for British and Indian businesses, lowering barriers in areas like food and drink, healthcare and life sciences, IT, data, chemicals and financial services. I think there are some exciting possibilities ahead.

Second, we are committed to building a stronger defence and security partnership with our Indian friends.

That will help us to tackle shared issues of concern such as, terrorism and maritime security – including piracy in the Western Indian Ocean.

It will also help us respond to the new and emerging challenges like space and cybersecurity.

We want to work together to ensure our telecoms networks, our 5G networks, are more secure and resilient.

Third, climate change.

Prime Minister Modi has been very clear this is a real priority for India.

We recognise India’s global leadership in this area, through the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

As hosts of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next year, we will also be playing a leading role ourselves. We want to see an ambitious outcome which really helps to shift the dial on climate change.

India has made real strides on renewable energy. We want to keep building on our partnership internationally in this area.

Finally, I should also mention we want to deepen our partnerships in education, research and innovation.

Our countries are both leaders in these fields. It is an area of complementarity, but also comparative advantage and I think there is a huge scope for further collaboration together in a collaborative international setting.

In the UK we give a warm welcome to thousands of Indian students and academics in the UK each year. They make an incredible contribution to our country and we feel they are very valued guests and we prize the contribution they make.

Perhaps the proudest example of our partnership today is on Covid-19.

Oxford University, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute India have been working closely together. And the Institute is now planning to produce one billion doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of next year, many of which will be destined for low and middle income countries.

That is the UK and India working together to transform people’s lives around the world. We want to take advantage of these vaccines, not only for our own people but to make sure the most vulnerable and poorest countries around the world get equitable distribution and access.

In these areas, and many others, our partnership can be a force for good in the world at large.

That’s why a closer relationship with India, and the wider Indo-Pacific region, is really one of the very highest policy priorities for the UK government.

Thank you.

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