London: Terming the launch of the Free Trade Agreement between India and the United Kingdom as a "big step", British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis on Thursday said that the FTA has a "huge potential and ambition between two democracies."

"Fantastic to launch the Free Trade Agreement today with @PiyushGoyal & @annietrev - huge potential and ambition between 2 dynamic democracies. A big step," Alex Ellis said in a tweet.

India and the United Kingdom on Thursday formally launched negotiations for FTA between the two countries by Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and UK Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who is in New Delhi for the discussions.

"An India-UK Free Trade Agreement would be a substantial opportunity for both of our economies and a significant moment in the India-UK bilateral relationship," the joint statement read.

"The India-UK bilateral trading relationship is already significant, and both sides have agreed to double that bilateral trade by 2030, as part of Roadmap 2030 announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May 2021. India and the UK will seek to agree to a mutually beneficial agreement supporting jobs, businesses, and communities in both countries," it added.

As per the statement, trade negotiations will be a priority for both India and UK, as both the countries build upon the Enhanced Trade Partnership launched by our Prime Ministers in May 2021.

"During negotiations, and on the path to a comprehensive agreement, both Governments will consider the option of an Interim Agreement that generates early benefits for both countries. In parallel to trade negotiations, the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee will continue to work in improving the India-UK trading relationship and addressing market access barriers outside of a trade agreement," the joint statement read.

It added that both parties have agreed that the first round of negotiations will begin on January 17, and future rounds of negotiations will take place approximately every five weeks.

The Indian negotiating team will be led by Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce and the UK negotiating team will be led by Harjinder Kang, Director for India Negotiations at the Department for International Trade.

The ambition of both countries is to negotiate a broad agreement that will deliver for businesses and consumers, it added.