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UK-India Collaboration at Center of Vaccine Miracle – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson News from India

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The Enhanced Business Partnership will open up new opportunities for Indian companies in the UK and British companies in India, UK PM Boris johnson tells TOI in an exclusive email interview. Excerpts:
Q: Given the rise of Covid in India and the strong relationship between the UK and India in healthcare, how do you think we can expand this relationship in terms of vaccine production?
The coronavirus is the greatest global challenge of our lives. If we are to defeat this pandemic, countries will have to work together in a spirit of openness.
India and the UK have demonstrated this commitment to cooperation over the past year. They have kept their borders open for vital medicines and PPE to reach those in need in the UK and of course we cannot forget the immense contribution that Indians make to our National Health Service.
I am proud that the UK was able to help India during the acute Covid emergency it is currently facing. On Sunday I announced that 1,000 more ventilators from the UK’s surplus supply will be sent to hospitals in India to help the most severe Covid cases. This is in addition to the 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and 3 oxygen generating units that we announced last week. Businesses, civil society and the general public have also responded to calls for help and launched funding campaigns. I am deeply moved by the surge of support that the British people have extended to the people of India and I am pleased that the UK government has been able to play our role in providing life-saving assistance. We will continue to look for ways to provide support in the coming weeks.
The development of vaccines against the coronavirus is nothing short of a scientific miracle. Collaboration between the UK and India is at the heart of that story: the UK funded the creation of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the doses of which are now being produced by the millions at the Serum Institute to distribute, at a cost, in all the world.
Now it is the responsibility of all governments to get vaccines to those who need them, anywhere in the world. That is why the UK has given £ 548 million to the COVAX scheme to bring vaccines to developing countries and pledged to share any excess doses of vaccine we have with the scheme.
I look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Modi and others to increase vaccine production and distribution globally so that we can defeat this pandemic, together. ”
Q: How do you expect the UK’s new interest in the Indo-Pacific on land / sea to play out?
The historical review of foreign policy that the United Kingdom published earlier this year was very clear about the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to the security and prosperity of the United Kingdom. India is of course an indispensable partner in that region and we are aligned with India on our global goals.
Later this year, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, the largest and most technologically advanced vessel ever built in British yards, will sail to the region, including India, for joint exercises with the Indian navy. The airline will visit West Coast ports, expanding our interoperability and enhancing our ability to defend against shared threats, a tangible symbol of our commitment to the Indo-Pacific.
Of course, we will look for ways to further deepen our defense relationship in the years to come, ensuring that our two countries are fully equipped to address the variety of challenges we face.
Q: India and the UK plan to declare an Enhanced Trade Partnership. Is this a free trade agreement in disguise?
The Enhanced Business Partnership agreed with Prime Minister Modi this week is a really important step. The Association will unlock new opportunities for Indian companies in the UK and British companies exporting and investing in India.
Our economic relationship is strong with trade already worth around £ 23bn a year, generating more than half a million jobs. The UK is already the largest European market for goods exports from India.
The Enhanced Trade Partnership sets the ambition to double the value of trade between the UK and India by 2030 and declares our shared intention to begin negotiations on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement by the end of this year. ”
Q: What would be the highlight / focus of this trade partnership, given that India is already one of the largest investors in the UK?
The ETP is about setting a clear direction for the future of the economic relationship between the UK and India. A relationship that I hope will be strengthened in the future by a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.
This Enhanced Business Association will solve market access problems, boost exports, and strengthen our business relationship. It will lead to the removal of barriers to trade through a market access package and open new opportunities for everyone from Indian seafarers to nurses.
The commitments we have made to increase trade will create jobs in both the UK and India and help bring the brightest Indian products to UK shelves and vice versa. ”
Q: How will UK immigration reform affect India and Indians?
“Prime Minister Modi has often spoken about the ‘living bridge’ between the UK and India. The close relationship between our countries ultimately comes down to our people and their shared values ​​and culture.
One in fifty people in the UK is of Indian descent and the contribution of the Indian diaspora in the UK speaks for itself.
India is already benefiting from the new points-based immigration system, which came into effect earlier this year. This new system will allow even brighter and more skilled people from India to study, work and live in the UK in the future. Level the playing field so where you come from matters less than what you can bring. Indian student visas increased by over 40% last year, with Indian citizens accounting for nearly half of all UK skills work visas.
On July 1, we will implement the new postgraduate pathway, offering new opportunities to tens of thousands of Indian students to study at fantastic UK universities and then build a career in the UK. We have also made it easier for Indian professionals to work in the UK and for Indian companies to hire the manpower they need.
When we met Prime Minister Modi and I discussed how to encourage Indians to come to the UK, especially students and young professionals, and how to combat immigration crime, and we were pleased to agree on a new mobility partnership that will seek to achieve precisely that. . ”
QUESTION: Are you pushing India to declare a “net zero” pledge on climate change?
India is already a world leader in climate action, with an impressive target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. I am proud that we are already working hand-in-hand to address the devastating effects of climate change, through initiatives like the Coalition. for disaster resistant infrastructure.
Whatever progress we make in the face of this great challenge, we will make it together. That is why, as hosts of this year’s UN climate summit, COP26, we are calling on all countries to increase their ambition on climate change. The science is clear. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees to avoid catastrophic global warming means that, globally, we must achieve net zero emissions by 2050. In the UK, we found that setting a net zero target has helped drive action here and now, giving a clear signal to companies. that the future is low carbon.
Here in India, I believe there is a unique opportunity to show the world that a new clean development path is possible. An opportunity to be at the forefront of a new global green transition with all the benefits of jobs and cleaner air that that brings. ”
Q: What would you say are the drivers of a post-Brexit UK-India relationship?
The UK-India relationship is a modern partnership of equals, focused on the future.
As this year’s landmark UK foreign policy review made clear, for the UK, the relationship with India is crucial in helping to address all of the issues that concern us most – addressing Covid, protecting against climate change, rebuild our economies. We have shared interests and together we address shared threats.
India is a crucial voice in global issues, which is why I have invited Prime Minister Modi to attend the G7 summit in the UK this summer. ”
Q: What is the post-roadmap relationship like?
Over the next decade, the UK and India will expand our relationship, a relationship that is far greater than the sum of their share.
That means taking tangible action in the most important areas of our relationship: addressing Covid, protecting against climate change, expanding free trade. But we will also increasingly work together on a wide variety of topics, from life-saving scientific research to world-class education and next-generation technology.
I was pleased to make my personal commitment to the UK-India relationship this week together with Prime Minister Modi and I have every expectation that great things will continue to happen when the UK and India work together. ”
Q: How are you reassessing your relationship with China, particularly in the areas of technology and defense?
Our approach to China remains clear and rooted in our values ​​and interests.
We have a strong and constructive relationship with China in many areas. China has to be part of the solution to any major global problem we face; Whether it’s to ensure we don’t face another devastating global health crisis, support vulnerable countries, or tackle climate change.
It has always been the case that when we have concerns we raise them and take action, as we have consistently done for human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. ”
Q: It appears that Covid has interfered with two trips you have been planning to India. When you finally get here, what would be the best things you would like to do?
I was very disappointed to have to postpone not one, but two visits to India this year. But of course, responding to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic must come first and Prime Minister Modi and I agreed that it was the right decision.
I hope the situation improves quickly so that people can return to their normal lives and I can visit your wonderful country again.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi and I continue to speak regularly, most recently earlier this week. I am also looking forward to welcoming Cornwall for the UK G7 Summit this summer. ”

Times of India

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