London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India at the end of April on his first major international tour. It will be his first international visit following the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the European Union, Downing Street has announced. It said Britain is seeking to ‘unlock’ the opportunities in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. Boris Johnson was supposed to visit India during the Republic Day celebrations earlier this year. However, he cancelled his trip to India amid the rising COVID-19 cases in the UK.
The announcement of the visit comes as Johnson launches the conclusions of the UK government’s Integrated Review of defence, security, development and foreign policy. This is a post-Brexit policy vision that falls within a wider Global Britain agenda.
“This year the Queen Elizabeth Carrier will undertake its first operational deployment to the region alongside NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] allies. The UK is applying for partner status at the Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) nations. At the end of April the Prime Minister will travel to India on his first major international visit following our departure from the European Union (EU),” Downing Street said Monday.
The India visit Downing Street said would ‘unlock the opportunities in the region’. It is widely expected to finalise 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 behind the ETP expected to be signed by Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they meet next month.
The Integrated Review, which has 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 100-page document sets out a vision for 2030 and how the UK will use its international policy to achieve it.
“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 in a statement.
“Our international ambitions must start at home, and through the Integrated Review we will drive investment back into our communities, ensuring the UK is on the cutting-edge of innovation and creating an entire country that is match-fit for a more competitive world,” informed the British Prime Minister.
The review is designed to address the challenges that come with a more competitive world, where some countries attempt to redefine the international order and – in some cases – ‘undermine the open and liberal international system that emerged in the wake of the Cold War’.