UK needs to boost India relations to seal trade deals
The UK has fallen behind other countries in its share of India’s fast-growing trade, in large part due to Britain’s restrictive immigration policies, according to a new report. The Commons foreign affairs select committee described the UK’s neglect of longstanding ties with India as an “expensive missed opportunity”, noting Britain has slipped from being its second largest trade partner in 1998-99 to 17th in 2018-19.The committee’s report highlighted the difficulty the UK will face in building new trade relationships outside the EU after Brexit, unless it also becomes more open to overseas workers, students and tourists.
“While the Global Britain strategy is barely being communicated in India, the ‘hostile environment’ message is being heard loud and clear,” said the report, referring to tension between prime minister Theresa May’s strategy for post-Brexit trade and her target to cut annual net migration to below 100,000.
MPs on the committee called on the government to be honest about priorities, since these goals were incompatible. India’s government has made it clear that it will be in no rush to reach a trade deal with the UK without significant concessions on movement of people.
Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform, a think-tank, has argued that “if the UK is to become a global services trading hub, it will need to create an immigration regime which prioritises enticing people in over keeping them out”.
Britons Appreciate the Advantages of Immigration more than Europeans
Britons appreciate the benefits of immigration more than their European counterparts, a survey has shown, despite the assumption that the UK was most hostile towards immigrants in light of Brexit.
The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism survey found that nearly half of all British people believe that immigrants have either a positive or neutral impact on the country.
Across other European countries, the numbers were lower. In Germany, 24% believed the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. This dropped further to 21 percent in France and 19 percent in Denmark.
Nearly a third, 28%, of Britons believed that the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. 20 percent believed the costs and benefits were about equal, and 16 percent were not sure.
37% of Britons felt that the costs of immigration outweighed the benefits. This was the second lowest amount in any big European country after Poland. Elsewhere, 50 percent of Italians believed immigration to be negative, as well as 49 percent of Swedes and 42 percent of French and 40 percent of Germans.
Britons Will Not Need a Visa to Switzerland After Brexit, Even for Long Stays
The Federal Council of Switzerland has decided to maintain its good relations with the United Kingdom, in terms of free movement, even after the latter’s departure from the EU. In the latest meeting held on March 22, the Swiss Federal Council agreed on three decisions in the field of migration, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Among others, the council decided that UK nationals would be exempt from the visa requirement to enter Switzerland after Brexit, even for long-term stays.
According to a press release of the Swiss government, the EU is believed to exempt Britons from the requirement to get a short-stay visa to enter the Schengen Area, part of which Switzerland is. However, Switzerland has decided to take a step further and drop even long stay visas for British citizens, after getting a confirmation that Britain will do the same for Swiss citizens.
EU offers Britons visa-free travel for short trips, if UK reciprocates
The European Union plans to allow UK citizens visa-free travel after Brexit, if they are travelling to Europe on a short trip. The European Council will negotiate the terms and then submit the legislation to the European Parliament to pass the legislation.
Visa-Free travel would apply to British citizens for a period of 90-180 days, who are travelling to any of the 26 countries, with open borders (The Schengen Area). The Council stipulates that 'Visa exemption is granted on the condition of reciprocity'. The UK has previously said it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens traveling to Britain for short stays after Brexit. But if that changes, the EU would "commit to act without delay" to impose reciprocal visa requirements, it warns.
However, the European Commission has also confirmed that as of 2021, UK visitors to the EU will have to pay €7 (about $8) for the European Travel Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS), which can be bought online ahead of travel. This will last for three years and ensure smooth entry at EU borders and airports, similar to the current ESTA scheme that many tourists use to travel to the United States.