Boris Johnson to visit India in bid to boost trade ties

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference at Downing Street in central London on September 9, 2020 following an announcement of further restrictions on social gatherings in England due to an uptick in cases of the novel coronavirus. – The UK government on on September 9 sets out tighter rules on social gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with concern mounting at rising infection rates among the young. The law in England will change from next week to reduce the number of people who can gather socially from 30 to six, with some exemptions. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP)

Boris Johnson will make his first official visit to India in January in a bid to boost trade and investment ties.

No 10 said the trip, the PM’s first after the Brexit transition period ends, would also be a chance to discuss co-operation on defence and climate change.

Downing Street is billing it as Mr Johnson’s first major bilateral visit since taking office.

International travel has been curtailed during his premiership by Covid-19.

Alongside South Korea and Australia, India has also been invited to join next year’s G7 leaders’ summit, which will be hosted by the UK.

The UK has said it is hoping to work towards a post-Brexit trade agreement with India after it formally leaves the EU’s trading regime at the end of the year.

The two countries have signed partnership agreements in recent years to boost ties in areas including life sciences, IT and the food and drink sectors.

Mr Johnson said the trip, which will be his first to an Asian country as PM, would mark the beginning of “an exciting year for Global Britain”.

He added that the visit would help drive a “quantum leap” in the UK’s ties with India, which was an “increasingly indispensable partner” and a “key player in the Indo-Pacific region”.

As part of the visit, Mr Johnson will take part in the country’s annual Republic Day event, which marks the anniversary of India officially adopting its constitution.

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