International Relations

India-UK Free Trade Agreement

India is investing heavily in free trade agreements to meet its export goal of $2 trillion by 2030. India is negotiating free trade agreements with nations like Israel, the European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


  • FTAs cover a wide range of topics, including tariff reduction that affects the entire manufacturing and agricultural sector, rules on services trade, digital issues like data localization, intellectual property rights that could affect drug accessibility, and promotion, facilitation, and protection of investment.
  • Significant economic and social impact: As a result, an FTA has a significant effect on both the economy and society. Given this, it is reasonable to expect increased transparency throughout the FTA negotiating process as well as afterward.

Challenges with Indian FTA negotiations

  • Lack of transparency in negotiations: India negotiates the majority of FTAs behind closed doors with little public knowledge of the goals and procedures used, and minimal oversight.
  • There isn’t a strong foundation for FTA negotiations in the other nations that India is negotiating an FTA with. For instance, there are a number of strong institutions in the U.K. that promote some kind of transparency in the FTA negotiations. Additionally, there are institutional tools that make it possible to monitor the executive’s conduct before, during, and after the FTA’s signature.

Contrast case of India’s FTA

  • No such publicly issued document is produced in India that argues in favour of signing an FTA and evaluates the effects it would have on the environment and society as a whole. The Commerce Ministry, the focal point for FTAs, only offers the most basic details about FTA negotiations on its website.
  • There is no public record of the government’s interactions with stakeholders or how it responded to their concerns. It appears that the Commerce Ministry also has inter-ministerial meetings and consults with stakeholders.
  • Absence of parliamentary oversight: India lacks a system for legislative oversight of executive actions during FTA negotiations. The legislative system in India provides for department-related committees to address important issues and make recommendations. However, the Indian government’s motivations for negotiating and signing an FTA are rarely examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce (PSCC).

Suggestions for advancing the India’s FTA framework

  • Promote the goals of the FTA: India should learn from the U.K. book and create legislation regarding signing treaties, especially FTAs. These elements should be included in this law. When starting negotiations for a treaty like an FTA, the government should publicly lay forth its economic justification and strategic goals.
  • Mandatory consultation with all parties involved: The executive should be required to communicate with all parties involved, address their concerns, and make this information public.
  • Dedicated parliamentary committee to examine the FTA: The Indian Parliament should establish a committee similar to the IAC in the United Kingdom to examine the strategic goals of signing an FTA.
  • The FTA shall be put up for debate in Parliament for a predetermined amount of time before being ratified by the executive, according to the procedure.


While it is undeniable that the administration has the constitutional authority to sign foreign treaties or free trade agreements in general, this authority should be used in a way that holds the executive accountable. After all, holding the executive accountable for its actions is a fundamental component of democracy. It shouldn’t be any different when negotiating international agreements like free trade agreements.

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