FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
If Britain wants good trade ties with India, it cannot say no to Indians
Posted:Apr 14, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Ever wondered why authentic Scotch whisky is so expensive in India? Have you sat at a bar and asked why in god’s name a glass of good alcohol costs that much? If the answer is yes then you have stumbled across an illustration of India’s peculiar trade relationship with Great Britain. It is a relationship set to become even more bizarre, thanks to British politics.
 
Every year Indians consume more whisky than any other country in the world. Yet the Indian government imposes a 150% tariff on Scotch whisky, far higher than most products imported from Britain, which on an average have a 15% import tax.
 
We don’t know exactly why whisky connoisseurs in India are punished — a mixture of anti-alcohol morality and lobbying from local producers are usually blamed — but we do know Britain is desperate to change the situation. This haggling over the price of whisky illustrates something bigger: An attempt by Britain to find a new place in the world.
 
A fortnight ago the British chancellor and business secretary both flew over to try and set the stage for a big trade deal with India. Trade secretary Liam Fox has also been doing the rounds. And these visits come after British Prime Minister Theresa May herself came to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November. So why are British politicians suddenly so interested in trade with India? It’s because of the state of British politics.
 
The cold reality is that with Britain poised to leave the European Union, its government is desperate to show that Brexit can be a success. This is no longer about national survival. For the pro-Brexit figures who have conducted a hostile takeover of the government, this is a matter of personal pride. If Brexit fails, then so do their political dreams. So they have created an alternative reality in which Britain will recapture its former glory by trading aggressively across the world. Such is their arrogance that some in government have dubbed the project “Empire 2.0”.
 
This is why, for Britain’s Brexiteers, a big trade deal with one of the world’s largest economies would be hailed as a victory. But what they haven’t done is to tell their supporters that trade deals usually involve giving up something in return. As Boris Johnson, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, recently told a newspaper: “Our policy is having our cake and eating it.” They want Indian money, but not Indians themselves.
 
Let’s be clear: There is little doubt that India would benefit from more trade with Britain. It would reduce prices of manufactured goods and food in both countries. It would also create new jobs and investment. Besides, Britain’s citizens of Indian origin have also long worked hard to forge a closer relationship between the two countries. There is a strong case for Britain’s tilt to India.
 
But it would be a betrayal for Indians if their government did not make their own demands for a trade deal. India needs easier visa access for its business community, for scientists, engineers and doctors travelling to the UK. It needs to ask why the British home office threatened Indian students with detention and deportation in claiming they had fraudulently completed English language tests (which they hadn’t). The number of Indian students going to Britain for higher education has fallen dramatically in the last few years.
 
And last but not least, New Delhi should ask why London has consistently made it harder for Indians to visit or join family members in Britain. The wellbeing of Indians abroad should matter much more to the Centre, given their outsized contribution to the Indian economy.
 
Indian ministers should point out that what the British government craves from Brexit is highly contradictory. One side wants global trade and economic growth, the other wants a closed economy with little immigration. The two are mutually exclusive. Britain cannot reap all the benefits from globalisation without the difficulties that come with it. They are two sides of the same coin. So far its ministers are sailing through by steadfastly ignoring reality, but they can only do that for so long.
 
International trade can be a bit like drinking alcohol: What you want from is not always what you get. It has its benefits but can also be hazardous to your health. Five years ago, during trade negotiations with the EU (which are still ongoing, by the way), New Delhi suggested reducing import duty on spirits in return for easier access for visas and Indian goods. But little progress has been made. It’s not just whisky drinkers but workers everywhere who are losing out.
 

Source: Hindustan Times, April 15, 2017

 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Relations between India and Morocco go back a millennium with the first recorded links dating to the 14th century, when the famous traveller and writer from Tangier, Ibn Batuta, travelled to India.
 
read-more
Stepping up action against terrorists attacking India, President Donald Trump's Administration has declared Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HM) a “global terrorist organisation” in an attempt to choke off financial and other support to it.
 
read-more
On 14 August 1947 Pakistan, consisting of East and West Pakistan, celebrated its independence. The 14th was chosen for the ceremony because Lord Mountbatten who came to Karachi as the Chief Guest had to later leave for Delhi where ot the midnight stroke India was to declare its independence.
 
read-more
The Doklam stand-off and a variety recent opinion pieces in magazines and newspapers draws attention to the poor state of defence policy preparedness and the lack of meaningful higher defence control in India. 
 
read-more
The two ideologically divergent ruling partners - the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - in Jammu and Kashmir are headed for a showdown as the debate over the abrogation of Article 35A of the Constitution of India heats up.
 
read-more
At the root of the present Doklam crisis is China’s intrusion into Bhutanese territory for its road building projects. These connectivity projects are integral to President Xi Jinping’s dream project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). India and Bhutan were the only two countries that did not participate in the first forum
 
read-more
It wasn’t so long ago that the whole world watched as Donald Trump sashayed on to the Riyadh red carpet and stole the show with his tough talk on Iranian-sponsored terrorism.
 
read-more
A vehicular attack to maximise casualties and spread panic is now a well-tested terrorist strategy in European cities.
 
read-more
It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.
 
read-more
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Column-image

This is the continuing amazing spiritual journey of a Muslim man from Kerala who plunged into Vedic religion after a chance encounter with a Hindu mystic under a jackfruit tree in the backyard of his house when he was just nine. It is a story w...

 
Column-image

History is told by the victors but in our modern age, even contemporary events get - or are given - a slant, where some contributors soon get eclipsed from the narrative or their images tarnished.

 
Column-image

Humans have long had a fear of malignant supernatural beings but there may be times when even the latter cannot compare with the sheer evil and destructiveness mortals may be capable of. But then seeking to enable the end of the world due to it...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive