UK-India trade deal includes COVID vaccine investment

LONDON — Britain has announced 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billions) of new trade and investment with India, including a deal with the Serum Institute of India to aid in the development of vaccines against COVID-19 and other diseases.

The announcement came ahead of a video meeting Tuesday between Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, who are expected to agree on deeper cooperation that could pave the way for a free-trade agreement between their countries.

The British government is seeking to increase trade with countries outside the European Union following the U.K.’s departure from the bloc. It said the trade and investment deals announced late Monday are expected to create more than 6,500 jobs in the U.K.

The package includes a 240 million-pound investment in the U.K. by the Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, that will support clinical trials, research and possibly vaccine production, the British government said in a statement. The Serum Institute, in collaboration with Codagenix, has started early-stage trials of a one-dose nasal vaccine against COVID-19.

“Like every aspect of the U.K.-India relationship, the economic links between our countries make our people stronger and safer,’’ Johnson said in a statement. “Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs we have announced today will help families and communities build back from coronavirus and boost the British and Indian economies.’’

Trade between the U.K. and India totals about 23 billion pounds annually, less than 5% of Britain’s trade with the EU.

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