UK and India discuss plans for post-Brexit free trade agreement

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Ministers from India and the UK have talked up the possibility of a new free trade agreement between the two countries after Brexit.

Leading government ministers from the UK and India have spoken positively about the prospect of a new free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries that could be put into place after Britain leaves the European Union.

Representatives from both nations have met during an official visit by British ministers to Delhi and Mumbai for the ninth UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue, with the aim of strengthening the relationship between the nations.

British chancellor Philip Hammond led a high-level business delegation alongside the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, commercial secretary Baroness Neville-Rolfe and international trade minister Mark Garnier.

An official dialogue on a possible bilateral trade agreement can only start after the completion of the Brexit process, which is on track to be finalized in March 2019 after the UK triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty last week. However, both nations appear receptive to the idea.

Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley said: "Obviously, this can be formally discussed after the Brexit takes place, but it is probably going to imply a far wider and a far higher engagement between the two countries."

Mr Hammond echoed this sentiment, adding: "Looking to boost our trade and investment beyond the borders of Europe and strengthening our relationships with the world's most vibrant economies is more important than ever."

The UK has been the largest G20 investor in India over the last ten years, while India is a leading global investor in the UK, creating over 7,000 new jobs last year alone, which made it Britain's second biggest job creator.

Indian companies play a major role in propping up the success of the UK economy, with many operating in fast-growth sectors such as technology and telecoms, pharmaceuticals and financial services.