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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India in January to try to boost trade and investment, as his government prepares for life outside the European Union’s single market.
It will be Johnson’s first major bilateral trip since becoming leader, his office said in an emailed statement. The U.K. has also invited India, alongside South Korea and Australia, to join next year’s G-7 summit as a guest country.
The British government has made the expansion of global trading opportunities a priority after Brexit, and is pursuing trade deals with countries including the U.S., New Zealand and Australia. The Indo-Pacific region is also high on the U.K.’s agenda, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the U.K. as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet,” Johnson said in the statement.
India is the destination for about 1.4% of both U.K. exports and imports, according to World Bank data for 2016, and total trade between the two is worth about 24 billion pounds ($32 billion) a year, the U.K. government said.
Johnson’s office said tackling climate change will be one of the focuses of the visit, ahead of Britain hosting the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year. Johnson will also be the guest of honor at the annual parade in New Delhi to celebrate India’s Republic Day on Jan. 26.
In preparation for the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31, the U.K. has also signed deals with the likes of Canada and Japan, preserving the benefits of trade agreements it had as a member of the EU.