techUK welcomes the launch of UK-India FTA negotiations
This is a momentous occasion in the UK-India trade relationship. India is an important partner for the UK technology sector, and an FTA offers the opportunity to drive technology collaboration and innovation across borders.
techUK CEO, Julian David, said: “After years of discussions and preparations, today marks an important moment in the UK-India trade relationship. The launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement offers the opportunity to deepen the bilateral tech partnership and advance an ambitious trade agenda. Key to a meaningful agreement – one that drives technology collaboration and innovation - are efforts to enable cross-border data flows, ensure an adequate data protection regime, remove unjustified data localisation requirements, commit to a tariff-free internet and increase mobility of talent and investment. We are looking forward to working with the UK government, as well as sister organisations and stakeholders in India to support a comprehensive digital trade chapter in the UK-India FTA.”
Technology is going to drive the future India-UK bilateral partnership. India is the second largest source of FDI into the UK, whereas the UK is Indian tech industry’s second largest export market after the US. We see that technology continues to play a pivotal role in India’s growth and it continues to attract international attention. India’s digital transition presents a great opportunity for the UK’s digital sector. The Government of India is aiming to have a trillion-dollar online economy by 2025, while internet penetration in India was expected to hit 50% by 2020. The UK is well-placed to support partnerships that encourage growth of tech sectors at home and abroad. It has an active venture capital community, more tech ‘unicorns’ than elsewhere in Europe, a network of incubators and tech clusters, world-leading talent and links between industry, universities and research institutions. With its strengths in technology and innovation, financial services and emerging technologies, the UK offers Indian businesses important opportunities for collaboration and investment.
Opportunities are great, but so are the challenges of reaching an ambitious trade agreement for our industry given different approaches to digital regulation on both sides. Areas which are likley to be the most difficult to negotiate inlude data localisation, mobility and IP protection. With this in mind, we may see an early harvest deal that addresses areas where there are less divergent views
To capitalize on emerging opportunities and drive collaboration and innovation across the UK-India tech corridor we must ensure that a future trade agreement includes strong provisions for cross-border data flows with an adequate data protection regime, increased mobility of talent and investment whilst also reducing barriers to business growth.
We have been calling for a comprehensive digital chapter in the UK-India FTA to:
- Enable cross-border data flows without compromising data protection standards;
- Prevent data localisation requirements which compel business to store data originating in a particular jurisdiction on servers located within that jurisdiction;
- Prevent the mandatory transfer of source codes, algorithms and encryption keys so that businesses will not be forced to disclose or transfer their product source code as a condition for market access;
- Agree not to impose customs duties in connection with the import or export of what is provided in a digital form, i.e. transmitted electronically;
- Establish regulatory dialogue on issues such as cyber-security, FinTech, AI and other emerging technologies, as outlined in the 2030 Roadmap for India-UK future relations.
Our full response to the DIT consultation on future UK-India FTA from August 2021 can be accessed here.
techUK will continue to be a voice for our industry throughout the FTA negotiation process. The first round of negotiations is expected to begin next week.
If memebrs have questions about the FTA and techUK's upcoming engagement activities, please reach out to [email protected].
Sabina Ciofu is Associate Director – International, running the International Policy and Trade Programme at techUK.
Based in Brussels, she leads our EU policy and engagement. She is also our lead on international trade policy, with a focus on digital trade chapter in FTAs, regulatory cooperation as well as broader engagement with the G7, G20, WTO and OECD.
As a transatlanticist at heart, Sabina is a GMF Marshall Memorial fellow and issue-lead on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, within DigitalEurope.
Previously, she worked as Policy Advisor to a Member of the European Parliament for almost a decade, where she specialised in tech regulation, international trade and EU-US relations.
Sabina loves building communities and bringing people together. She is the founder of the Gentlewomen’s Club and co-organiser of the Young Professionals in Digital Policy. Previously, as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, she led several youth civic engagement and gender equality projects.
She sits on the Advisory Board of the University College London European Institute, Café Transatlantique, a network of women in transatlantic technology policy and The Nine, Brussels’ first members-only club designed for women.
Sabina holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London and a BA in Classics from the University of Cambridge.