British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday (19 April) cancelled a planned trip to India, scheduled to take place next week, due to the current coronavirus situation in India, Johnson's office said.

"In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week," a joint statement from the British and Indian government, released by Johnson's office, said.

The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship.

"Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India."

Relations with India are seen as a key component of both Britain's post-Brexit ambitions to reinvigorate trade with countries outside the European Union, and a diplomatic push to gain more influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Britain has invited India to attend the G7 summit it is hosting in June.

A Free Trade Agreement with India once finalised, is expected to be worth $50-100bn for the UK economy and will provide a vital market now Britain has left the EU.

In early reaction, Gaurav Singh, co-founder of JPIN VCATS, said: "Communication between the British PM and his Indian counterpart is of vital importance to both nations due to the hope that a Free Trade Agreement can be negotiated. While decision was quite rightly taken not to physically travel due to the rise in Covid-19 cases throughout the Subcontinent, I hope a productive conversation can still be had around easing trade barriers and ensuring prosperity for both nations."

He added: "In times of this potential crisis, international cooperation is incredibly important. It has often been said that it is a global approach that will be the way out of this Pandemic, and so the ability to communicate and discuss ideas is vital.

"Out of all the incredible opportunities throughout the world, India stands out for the British government, business leaders, and investors - and for good reason, and to ensure a continued symbiotic relationship, the FTA should be put down on paper as soon as possible. The Silk Road has been the world's most important trade route for millennia, and all the forecasts point to it only becoming more important as emerging economies, particularly India, grow exponentially".

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