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‘India to be among World’s 3 Defining Countries’: Alex Ellis

As per Ellis, India is becoming "ever more central" to the UK

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UNITED KINGDOM: Britain’s revision of its 2021 security and foreign policy, prompted by the Ukraine crisis and China’s actions, presents chances for India and the UK to collaborate to deal with coercion and avoid critical dependencies, Alex Ellis, the British High Commissioner, said on Friday.

Alex Ellis talks about India and UK relations

In the updated policy, the UK pledges to work with allies like India to protect its interests in the Indo-Pacific region and asks for the UN Security Council to be reformed to add permanent members for Brazil, Germany, Japan, and India.

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According to Ellis, India is becoming “ever more central” to the UK in a variety of ways, including education—where it has surpassed China as the largest supplier of foreign students for the UK—investment—where it is the second-largest investor in new projects—and cooperation in science and technology.

“The themes of dealing with coercion and the need to avoid crucial dependencies have both been brought to light by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, if you read through the comprehensive evaluation. The UK and India will undoubtedly collaborate more and more on it in the future,” said Ellis.

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In an interview, the high commissioner stated that talks for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK are “into the end game” and that the emphasis is on the “tough stuff,” such as greater opening of each other’s goods markets and new employment routes for Indian citizens.

Questioned if the controversy surrounding the tax survey at the BBC offices had subsided, Ellis responded that nations with increasing trust relationships, like India and the UK, “should be capable of talking to each other frankly” on such matters.

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When asked if the revamp of the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Development, Defense, and Foreign Security was triggered by the Ukraine crisis or China’s action, he said he thought that’s right; the four fundamental bits of the integrated review — a shift of power, strategic competition, worsening global challenges, and the importance of science — all remain unchanged.

“But you are right; you have a combination of some of the behavior of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and some of the actions of China’s president, Xi Jinping,” Ellis said. He also added that he doesn’t think that changes the basic point that China makes the weather and Russia is the storm, but it has sharpened it a bit.

Ellis expresses his view on BBC tax enquires and more

When questioned about the chance of rebalancing the 2021 integrated review, which was noted for its tilt toward the Indo-Pacific, he said he didn’t think there was any chance. The imminent danger comes from Russia. If anything, the Indo-Pacific bias will get worse.

The integrated review and refresh is clear: it represents a permanent shift in how we perceive the world. There is a global reaction to coercion and the threat of critical dependency, which is why it discusses the Atlantic-Pacific region in light of a number of events that have transpired since then.

These two issues, in his opinion, had become more acute over the past two years.

“If you take a look at what the UK has done, for instance, with the future combat aviation program with Japan and Italy, with AUKUS, or with what we have done with India over the last two years, their collaboration will accelerate significantly.” Ellis added.

“Because you have to deal with these issues globally, there is now something known as the Atlantic-Pacific region. For the remainder of his existence, along with the United States and China, India will be one of the three nations that best define the world,” he added.

When asked about the position of India in the UK’s revamped policy, he said, “At number one, it’s basic, and it is an ever more central nation to the UK. And that’s in a very broad sense, encompassing everything from education—where India has now surpassed China as the largest source of international students to the UK—to investment—where India is now the second-largest investor in terms of new projects in the UK—to cooperation in research, science, and technology.

He continued that “if you want an example of a global threat and how the UK and India will collaborate, look no further than the effect of the Covishield vaccine since the integrated review, which had implications not only for the UK and India but also for other nations around the world. You will see how central India will develop.”

While discussing revamped policy regarding the UK’s working with allies to stop China’s coercive behavior and specifically mentioning China’s behavior, he said that, in his opinion, “is the work we had done with India to protect the Indo-Pacific, and we had done describe it in those terms — an open and secure Indo-Pacific — and in a sense, that’s also part of why we’ll be doing AUKUS.”

He added that, “for instance, in the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, we’ll focus on the maritime security component. The Andaman Islands recently welcomed a Royal Navy vessel for the first time in a very long time. We’ll be returning. We will increase our knowledge of the ocean with India. Second, we will begin to conduct inspections.”

When asked about our stand in the negotiations of the India-UK FTA and about the hiccups in the negotiations, he said, “you are at the end of the negotiations as the majority of the negotiations have already been done.” In his opinion, trade minister Kemi Badenoch’s visit here in December last year gave the negotiations fresh life and pushed them into the challenging parts.

When asked about the indication of the deal’s finalization, he said in the interview that we had reached the end of the deal and we now needed to tackle the difficult issues, which required some effort, but he believes that both parties wanted quality to characterize the agreement.

When questioned about the controversy surrounding the tax inquiries conducted against the BBC, has it passed or does the UK still bring it up with its Indian counterparts? He answered that countries that had a relationship based on a mutually increasing level of trust, like the UK and India do, would be able to communicate openly.

Also Read: Gary Lineker to Return to Air as Talks with BBC Progress


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