British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India at the end of April as part of his efforts to boost the United Kingdom’s opportunities in the region, Reuters reported on Monday, citing his office. This would be Johnson’s first major international trip after Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The British prime minister was scheduled to visit India on Republic Day but had to call off the trip. Johnson had cited the complete lockdown imposed in England, fuelled by the new variant of the virus, as the reason behind cancelling his trip. Johnson had on December 26 accepted India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.
His office had said Johnson hoped to rearrange his visit before Britain hosted the meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven in June, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to attend as a visitor.
The British government has said it would “tilt” its focus towards the Indo-Pacific region as part of its integrated review of government policy for the coming years. It said that the region increasingly represented the geopolitical centre of the world.
In February, Britain made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, seeking membership to open new avenues for post-Brexit trade and influence. It has also applied to become a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“We are pursuing trade deals from Australia to the US [United States] and around the world – particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, a huge growth market for the future,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab had said in December.
Britain and the European Union had reached a post-Brexit trade deal in December. The country had formally exited the EU on January 31 last year but had to reach a trade deal with the bloc by the end of its transition period on December 31 or face tariffs and economic hurdles.