A day after BBC India’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai were searched by income tax officers, a senior government official said that this will not affect the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between India and the United Kingdom (UK).
The income tax officers had searched the British broadcaster’s offices weeks after the government banned a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his role in Gujarat riots in 2002.
“As per the UK government, BBC is an autonomous organisation and the even UK government is not owning up to it,” the official added.
The commerce and industry ministry on Wednesday said that the next round of negotiations for the proposed FTA between India and the UK was scheduled from March 20-24.
Commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal said both countries have closed as many as 13 out of 26 chapters. After the eight round of talks in March, it can be assessed how many more rounds would happen and how much more time the talks would take to conclude, he said.
The 26 chapters in the agreement include goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights. The last round of talks concluded last week in London.
India and the UK launched negotiations for the FTA in January last year with an aim to conclude talks by Diwali (October 24), but the deadline was missed after political developments in the UK.
Reduction or elimination of customs duty under the pact would help Indian labour intensive sectors like textiles, leather, and gems and jewellery, to boost exports in the UK market.
The UK is seeking duty concessions in areas like Scotch whisky and automobiles.