British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India towards the end of April. This will be one of his first major visits to India after the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street, announced that the visit comes as Britain is keen on "unlocking" opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region. The announcement of the visit, which had been postponed from a planned Republic Day tour in January due to the escalating COVID-19 crisis in the UK, comes as Johnson launches the conclusions of the UK government's Integrated review of defence, security, development and foreign policy.
The UK Prime Minister’s Office also said that a central foreign policy shift discussed in the review was a definitive tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region as the geopolitical centre of the world, and included the UK applying for partner status to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic union, of which India is a sectoral dialogue partner. Downing Street said that the India visit is “widely expected to a much-anticipated India-UK Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) as a precursor to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the future.”
Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Minister for South Asia in the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), is currently in India to add further momentum to the ETP, expected to be signed by Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they meet next month.
The integrated review, which had been conducted over the last year, is dubbed the most comprehensive articulation of foreign policy and national security approach published by a British government in decades. “The foundation of our foreign policy is who we are as a country: our values, our strengths and most importantly our people. So, I am determined to ensure we have a foreign policy that delivers for those people,” said Johnson. The new integrated review, accompanied by a statement in the House of Commons, is also geared towards tackling issues such as climate change and preserving biodiversity.