Fresh UK-India trade deal could be in sight, says Rishi Sunak after meeting Narendra Modi

ITV News' Romilly Weeks reports from the summit in New Delhi

Rishi Sunak is "confident" a fresh trade deal could be struck between the UK and India after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in New Delhi.

Downing Street described talks between Prime Ministers Sunak and Modi on UK-India trade negotiations as productive, with the two teams said to be working “at pace” towards an agreement.

Mr Sunak, who described his conversation with Mr Modi as “warm and productive”, told broadcasters in New Delhi on Saturday: “There is a desire on both of our parts to see a successful trade deal concluded.

“The opportunities are there for both countries, but there is a lot of hard work that is still to go and we need to work through that, as we will do.”

Downing Street said the premiers signed off on ministers and negotiating teams continuing to work “at pace” towards a free trade deal.

Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty welcomed to 'near and dear' India

Downing Street said the conversations were 'warm' between the premiers. Credit: AP

A trade pact with India, an agreement that could grant more favourable access for British companies to a market of 1.4 billion people, is seen as a major post-Brexit prize by the Conservative UK Government.

The prime minister, who is the first British leader of Indian descent, told reporters during his flight from London to New Delhi on Thursday that an agreement was “not a given” but his comments have gradually become more positive since arriving at the G20.

On Friday, he told Indian broadcaster Asian News International that “enormous progress” had been made before going further with his most recent remarks, suggesting the final obstacles could be worked through.

The deal is reportedly being held up by a variety of issues, including a disagreement over the number of visas for Indians to work in the UK and differences over the level of access British car manufacturers should be given to India’s market.

Mr Sunak, unlike his predecessor Boris Johnson, who wanted to seal a deal in time for October 2022 Diwali celebrations, said he would not set “arbitrary deadlines” for finalising an agreement.

With reports suggesting he could return to India in the autumn, the Indian government’s aim of ratifying fresh trade terms by the end of the year could be met.

Another of Mr Sunak's key priorities during the summit is to encourage other countries to join the coalition against Russia - but so far this G20 has been marred by divisions over Ukraine and climate change.

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