On Tuesday, the Prime Ministers (PMs) of India and the UK agreed to create a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries. Indian PM Narendra Modi and UK PM Boris Johnson approved the partnership during a virtual bilateral summit. The UK is the first European country with which India has concluded such a partnership.
The two leaders also agreed to an overarching framework to direct bilateral cooperation over the next decade. This framework is called the ‘Roadmap 2030 for a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ (‘Roadmap 2030’).
The Roadmap is extremely comprehensive. Prefaced by a ‘2030 Vision’ section, it has five main sections – ‘Connecting our countries and people’, Trade and prosperity, Defence and security, Climate, and Health.
“Both India and the UK are vibrant democracies and leading economies of the world with impressive advances and capabilities in human resources, manufacturing, innovation, science, education, research, fintech, space, defence, emerging and green technologies, [and] clean energy among others,” explains the Roadmap 2030 in its introduction. “Both are suitably placed to bring their respective strengths to address global challenges with regard to climate, security, terrorism and pandemics and believe that democratic norms and principles are the mainstay for maintaining a rules based international system and respect for universal human rights.”
Under the Roadmap, India and the UK will strengthen their economic relationship by means of an Enhanced Trade Partnership. The two countries have also committed themselves to negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) over the next ten years. The intent is for the FTA to double India-UK trade.
The two countries will also increase research cooperation between their universities in areas such as climate science, emerging technologies and health. Enlarging the bilateral health partnership is another objective of the Roadmap, with pandemic resilience and strengthening global health security being singled out.
Climate change and nature conservation are further spheres for cooperation in the new partnership. The UK and India will work together to accelerate the development of clean energy and clean transport, while jointly assisting developing countries to adapt to climate change and protecting biodiversity.
Security and defence will include cooperation in military technology, the development of defence systems, and cybersecurity, among other topics. The two countries would “[w]ork in lockstep to tackle threats to our shared security in all their forms,” said the official UK PM’s Office statement on the agreement. “The UK’s [Aircraft] Carrier Strike Group will visit India later this year to boost this work with our navies and air forces undertaking joint training exercises to enable future cooperation on operations in the Western Indian Ocean.”