The Foreign Secretary is said to be keen to beat the US and EU to secure a bilateral trade deal with Dehli. Not only would it present British business with ample opportunity – it would help to curb Chinese influence in the booming region.
And with India predicted to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2050 – it could put rocket boosters on Boris Johnson’s ambition to create a Global Britain.
One Government source told the Times: “The tech and digital space in India is still hugely protectionist and if we could open up even a slither [sic] of access it would put us ahead of the game.”
The news emerged as International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan prepares to travel to Delhi later this month.
Ms Truss – who is also the Brexit Secretary after Lord Frost stepped down last month – is a big backer of securing a deal with India.
Another option would be to cut visa fees for students and allow them to stay in Britain for a period of time after they graduate.
Hefty visa fees for work and tourism – which can cost up to £1,400 – could also be reduced as an enticement.
Currently, India’s £2trillion economy is protectionist and imposes significant tariffs on imports to protect its domestic industry.
Opening it up is seen as key to turbocharging growth and should the UK be first in the queue it would undoubtedly benefit from its already strong ties with the country.
The news emerged shortly after the Prime Minister vowed to “deliver on the promise of Brexit” and create new trade agreements.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “India is projected to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2050 and a free trade agreement will open up huge opportunities for UK businesses to trade with India’s £2.25tn economy.
“Companies up and down the country can look forward to the benefits, from manufacturers in the West Midlands to tech experts in Belfast, and we look forward to launching negotiations early next year.”
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story stated “Home Secretary Priti Patel is firmly opposed to [relaxing the UK’s rules on Indian citizens coming to the country]”. In fact, according to Ms Patel’s office immigration policy is completely separate from trade deals. We are happy to set the record straight.