We see lot of potential to collaborate with India in Indo-Pacific: UK

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) The UK on Tuesday said it sees a lot of potential to collaborate with India in the Indo-Pacific as the vision of both the countries for the region was 'very closely aligned'.

Acting British Commissioner to India Jan Thompson said cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on a range of issues including maritime security and climate change is set to be a major component of a 10-year roadmap being framed to further deepen the bilateral ties.

'We do see a lot of potential to collaborate with India in the Indo-Pacific region. Part of the UK’s new international approach is likely to have a very significant tilt around the Indo-Pacific,' she said at a virtual media briefing.

She said the vision of India and the UK was 'very very closely aligned' as both the countries want to see a free and open Indo-Pacific region that supports the rules-based international system.

Thompson said an enhanced trade partnership launched by Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss on Monday could be a stepping stone for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

The comment by the Acting British Commissioner comes amid renewed global focus on the Indo-Pacific in view of China's unrelenting efforts to expand economic and military influence in the region.

Thompson also said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to visit India in the next few months, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also keen to come to the country.

Asked about the situation in Hong Kong, Thompson said the UK has been concerned about some of the measures China has taken including the imposition of the national security law.

She said Britain is committed to uphold Hong Kong’s autonomy and rights and freedoms under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.

'We have been concerned about some of the measures China has been taking in respect of Hong Kong, for example, the National Security law,' she said.

In the course of the briefing, Thompson spoke extensively on trade ties between the two nations.

“UK-India bilateral trade is already worth nearly 24 billion pounds, increasing almost 10 per cent last year, and our investment relationship now supports over half-a- million jobs.

'As the UK assumes an independent trade policy, I am confident that this ambitious economic agenda we are setting out with India will deliver prosperity for both our economies,” she said.

Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson said the UK is clear that no one country can face the challenges alone.

'The UK-India partnership on health – with our world-leading research expertise and India’s unparalleled manufacturing capabilities – will be key. The UK is committed to ensuring any vaccine, once developed, reaches those who need it,” she said.

In the briefing, she also mentioned the threat of climate change.

“Even as we work through this unprecedented crisis, we should not forget the other crisis we must continue to work on for the future, the threat of climate change,' Thompson said.

'The COP26 UN climate conference in November next year, hosted by the UK in Glasgow, can be a moment where the world unites to help our societies build a better, greener future,” she added. PTI MPB RT RT