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UK to remove all countries from its COVID travel ban red list

Beginning Monday, the UK will remove the remaining seven countries from its COVID-19 travel ban red list, which will be reviewed every three weeks and revised in case of emerging COVID variant threats, the British government has announced.

From 4am on Monday, the remaining seven destinations on the UK’s COVID-19 travel ban red list – Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela – will be removed, it said in an update on Thursday.

The red list itself has not been scrapped and will be reviewed every three weeks, with restrictions imposed in case of emerging COVID variant threats.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said that Delta is now the dominant COVID variant in most countries around the world, which means the risk of known variants entering the UK has reduced.

“This is another step in the right direction for international travel with more good news today for passengers, businesses and the travel sector,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Whether it’s reuniting family members or making it easier for businesses to trade, the success of the vaccine rollout both at home and abroad has allowed us to reach this milestone. However, we must not be complacent and remain ready to spring into action and defend our hard-won gains if needed,” he said.

The travel regulations between India and the UK for fully vaccinated passengers had been eased earlier this month, with Covishield-vaccinated Indians not required to undergo self-isolation at a declared address on entry into Britain.

Travellers coming from red list countries continued to be subjected to a mandatory 10-day quarantine at a government-sanctioned facility. The latest update means travellers vaccinated with UK-recognised vaccines will all face similar international travel rules.

“The red list and quarantine remain vital in protecting our borders – we are keeping a small number of quarantine rooms on standby and will not hesitate to take swift action by adding countries to the red list if the risk increases again,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The DfT said government scientists will continue to closely monitor variants of concern in order to ensure the UK’s approach remains “proportionate”, surveillance through regular testing continuing throughout.

Meanwhile, under rules effective since October 24, fully vaccinated travellers returning to England from countries not on the travel ban red list – including India – can use a COVID negative Lateral Flow Test (LFT) instead of the more expensive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

All travellers must complete a compulsory passenger locator form prior to travel, including providing a test booking reference number supplied by a testing provider.

Passengers who are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine must still take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 test and complete 10 days self-isolation on entry to the UK.

It comes as the UK recorded 39,842 coronavirus cases on Thursday, reflecting a downward trend over the last few days having crossed 50,000 daily cases last week.

Bilateral ties at threshold of new era with PM Modi’s UK visit: Indian envoy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK comes at a time when India-UK bilateral relations are on a positive trajectory and potentially at the threshold of a new era, India’s High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar has said.

Modi will attend the World Leaders’ Summit (WLS) of the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, with bilateral talks planned with his British counterpart Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the summit, scheduled over Monday and Tuesday.

India’s envoy in Britain noted that in preparation for the bilateral engagement, discussions have progressed on a full range of issues – from consular relations to maritime security and space as well as cooperation at the UN and other multilateral fora.

“The India-UK partnership is on a very positive trajectory, potentially at the threshold of a new era,” Kumar told PTI in an interview on the eve of the Modi’s UK visit.

“It is comprehensive, a strategic partnership, covering an ever-expanding range of areas of human activity; underpinned, as it should be, by an efficient institutional framework.

“Our leaders have a shared vision of how best both nations can realise the full potential of our many complementary strengths – bilaterally and on global issues,” she said.

The High Commissioner confirmed that the 2030 Roadmap agreed between Prime Minister Modi and his British counterpart Johnson in May remains on track with its aim to more than double bilateral trade by 2030, following a series of trade delegation exchanges between the two countries.

“Both governments remain committed to the implementation of the roadmap within prescribed timelines. Accordingly, we are looking to launch negotiations in November 2021 for an Interim Agreement to be signed in March 2022 and eventually a comprehensive agreement, if all goes according to schedule, by November 2022,” she said.

The senior diplomat stressed that Prime Minister Modi’s three-day UK visit takes on added significance in the year being celebrated as marking 75 years of India-UK relations.

Kumar, who was in India earlier this month for UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ visit to New Delhi and Mumbai, referred to the most recent ministerial exchange as “fruitful” in moving the bilateral agenda forward.

“The recent visit to India of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is a manifestation of an increased engagement between the two countries in the defence and security sector. There exists a commonality of concern and commitment on regional and global security related issues,” said the High Commissioner.

She said: “With much convergence of our interests in the Indian Ocean region, it is but natural that we have increased our engagement in defence and security. In fact, India’s defence modernisation programme presents an opportunity – we envisage a partnership involving co-development of designs and technology, as well as joint manufacturing.

“The UK is an important ally for India in defending the rules-based international order. At a time when the global governance systems face unprecedented challenges, both democracies – committed to upholding the rules-based order – can play a key role in preserving principles that strengthen core institutions.”

The envoy noted that joint initiatives on global themes have been made possible as a result of India and the UK taking the lead in bringing solutions, reflecting post-Brexit Britain’s more “independent” approach.

“In technology, trade and a transformational approach to new opportunities and challenges, we have seen a fair amount of success already and have set for ourselves further goals with a higher level of ambition.

“As a global force for good, India and the UK continue to develop the partnership on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics through the institutional dialogue process on strategic priorities for collaboration in the health sector,” Kumar said.

On the issue of climate action ahead of COP26, the High Commissioner described both countries as “partners” in global climate mitigation initiatives like the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

“We look forward to making a significantly helpful contribution to the success of COP26,” the Indian High Commissioner added.

US, UK, German, French leaders urge Iran to return to talks in ‘good faith’

The leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Britain urged the Iranian president to seize the opportunity of a possible return of the United States to a 2015 deal on its nuclear programme in order to prevent a “dangerous escalation”.

“This will only be possible if Iran changes direction,” the four leaders said in a joint statement released by President Emmanuel Macron’s office.

“We urge President Raisi to seize this opportunity and act in good faith so that negotiations can urgently find an outcome. It’s the only safe way to prevent a dangerous escalation, that would be in no country’s interest.”

UK to donate 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to developing countries: Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. will donate 20 million doses of the


coronavirus vaccine to developing countries as part of efforts to share vaccines with countries that sorely lack them. Johnson made the announcement as he arrived in Rome for a summit of Group of 20 leaders, which starts Saturday.

The U.K. says 10 million doses have been sent to the United Nations-backed COVAX vaccine-sharing program, and 10 million more will follow in the coming weeks.

They join 10 million doses that have already been delivered, and form part of Britain’s commitment to share 100 million doses with needier nations by mid-2022.

Johnson urged the club of economic powers to push to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022, saying that “our first priority as the G-20 must be to press ahead with the rapid, equitable and global distribution of vaccines.”

Britain and other wealthy nations have been accused of hoarding more vaccines than they need, while some countries, especially in Africa, have few or none. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a World Health Organization health envoy, has urged G-20 nations to speed things up and airlift unused doses to the developing world.

The British leader also is hoping to focus the G-20’s minds on climate commitments as he prepares to host a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, starting Sunday.

Apparel exports to major markets increasing at healthy pace: AEPC

Apparel exports to major markets such as the US, Europe, UK, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Japan, and Australia are recording healthy growth and the sector would contribute significantly in achieving India’s USD 400 billion exports target for the current fiscal year, AEPC said on Saturday. Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel said apparel exports are picking up in every western market.

“Exports to the US increased by 22 per cent during January-May 2021 as compared to the same period of previous year,” he said while addressing the members of the council at the 42nd Annual General Meeting.

The chairman said he has represented the government for fast- tracking free trade pacts with the European Union, UK, US, Australia and Canada.

“India has been facing duty disadvantages against competitors in the major overseas destination. India’s exports face a duty disadvantage of 9.6 per cent for exports to EU vis-a-vis exports from other countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Turkey, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the UK, Bangladesh continues to enjoy preferential trade benefits after the UK’s departure from the EU,” he said.

India, UK looking at interim trade agreement: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

India and the UK are looking at concluding an interim trade agreement amid negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.

Addressing the India Global Forum (IGF) in London virtually from New Delhi, Shringla noted that British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visit to India, expected over two days starting Friday, will add further momentum to the partnership as it coincides with the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) arriving in Mumbai for joint exercises.

“We are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement as things stand. We are also looking at an interim trade agreement,” said Shringla.

“The visit of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is planned to coincide with the UK Carrier Strike Group docking in Mumbai,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary noted that his counterpart, Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary in the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), is expected in India soon to take the trade talks forward.

“We should be very optimistic. Things have really accelerated, and we should be very excited,” said Barton, who also addressed the forum virtually.

“The real opportunity is with the UK’s place in the world. We have left the European Union and are in charge of our international trade and commercial policy and changed the way we approach migration to this country,” he said.

With reference to the sectors of India-UK cooperation, Shringla highlighted the financial markets, people-to-people ties through the new Migration and Mobility Partnership, a first-ever consular dialogue expected soon.

“Security and defence cooperation is high on the agenda, including maritime security, cyber security, health partnership, digital health, medical supply chains, alternative health and science and technology,” he noted.

“We did have a devastating [COVID-19] wave but since then we have done everything we can to insulate against the impact of the COVID pandemic… Today is a landmark for India’s vaccination programme, we have crossed a billion doses and that is the greatest insulation we have against the pandemic,” he said.

With reference to the UK-hosted United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next month, the Foreign Secretary said India will be participating with a strong message and also expect promises of predictable finance to meet ambitious climate targets.

He said: “We are perhaps the only G20 country to have fulfilled our NDCs [Nationally Determined Contributions] and outperformed them. Our Prime Minister has said that India will not only meet its targets but exceed them. And, he has spoken to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We intend to go in with a strong message, with full commitment to COP26.

“In order to meet these ambitious targets, developing countries will need access to climate financing, green technology. We need more than commitments, we need promises – predictable and consistent financing.”

India Global Forum, being held at the Taj Hotel in London, is a day-long series of dialogues organised by UK-based India Inc. Group with experts across different fields to explore the theme of “quantum leap” in UK-India relations, as laid out by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson in the 2030 Roadmap for bilateral ties.

“Quantum leap is very relevant when you see what’s on the table in the UK-India partnership,” said Shringla.

AIIMS Rishikesh signs MoU with King’s College, London

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences Rishikesh has signed an MoU with King’s College, London to deal with a possible third wave of COVID-19 in a more effective manner. Under the MoU signed on Monday, the UK firm British Telecom will provide AIIMS, Rishikesh 50 4G supported tablets equipped with a software that will help the premier institute run its ICUs virtually in consultation with international health experts in case a third wave hits India, AIIMS-Rishikesh Director Ravikant said on Tuesday.

Describing it as a major step towards ensuring quality care of patients, Ravikant said King’s College, London is currently providing around 180 hospitals in Britain with such healthcare services under an initiative called “Life Science UK.”

Wipro Consulting Services invited to be Management Consultancies Association member

BANGALORE: IT major Wipro today said its consulting business has been invited to become a member of the prestigious Management Consultancies Association (MCA).

MCA is a representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK, where the consulting industry is among the best in the world.

Stating that Wipro Consulting Services (WCS) is a key differentiator for Wipro, the company said in a statement that WCS consults and leads organisational and business process transformation to improve performance, increase effectiveness, reduce costs and improve resilience.

Alexis Samuel, Vice President & Global Managing Partner, Wipro Consulting Services, Wipro Ltd, said, “This validates our leadership position in business technology transformation and recognises the credibility of our services.”

Anshul Jain to head Cushman & Wakefield India business

NEW DELHI: Global property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield has appointed former DTZ India head Anshul Jain as managing director of its India operations. Jain comes in place of Sanjay Dutt who recently quit the company.

In his new role, Jain will be in charge of leading the India business and will work closely with the India leadership team in leveraging its existing successful platform and building on the continued growth momentum of Cushman & Wakefield’s business across the region.
Jain, who will assume office from July 1, will report to Stuart Roberts, Cushman & Wakefield’s chief executive for Asia Pacific. He will be based in the national capital region. “India is a key hub and has always played a significant role to our Asia Pacific platform, and will continue to do so as we expand and invest in our business in line with our regional strategic priorities for 2016 and beyond,” said Roberts.

Jain has over 20 years of experience in the real estate industry and has lead and managed key businesses across Asia Pacific and internationally in the UK. He has held job titles across a broad spectrum of real estate services including consulting and valuations, office design and build services, real estate private equity investments, and office leasing and investment sales. Jain had quit DTZ after its $2 billion global merger with Cushman &Wakefield last year.

India-UK tie up for new 8 million pounds medicinal research

India and the UK will be enhancing their science and research collaboration with five new projects worth 8 million pounds to tackle anti-microbial resistance, which could lead to important advances in the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes.

The UK will contribute 4 million pounds from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Fund for International Collaboration, which India will match with its own resources – resulting in the total funding of 8 million pounds. The new tie-up was announced on Tuesday as Tariq Ahmad, UK Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, as he conducted a so-called “virtual visit” to India.

“The UK has already partnered with India’s Serum Institute to manufacture the vaccine for COVID-19, if clinical trials are successful, with plans to distribute to a billion people across the developing world,” said Ahmad. “But there is more we can do together to tackle urgent global health issues in the world. Our thriving research and innovation partnerships will benefit people in the UK and India, and beyond,” he said.

India is a major producer of antimicrobials in the pharmaceutical industry global supply chain, and the research projects aim to develop a better understanding of how waste from antimicrobial manufacturing could be inadvertently fuelling anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

The five projects backed by the new funding are planned for September, subject to clearances.

Sir Philip Barton, UK High Commissioner to India, said: “The UK is India’s second-biggest research partner, with joint research expected to be worth 400 million pounds by next year. This huge investment enables us to work closely together on global health challenges such as the search for a COVID-19 vaccine.”

“Today’s announcement is another demonstration of our excellent research relationship and will strengthen the important fight against anti-microbial resistance.”

During the virtual India tour, Ahmad chaired a roundtable with senior Indian and UK-based stakeholders on cold-chain technologies that are critical for the effective transport of vaccines, ensuring they successfully reach their final destination.

Other elements of the ministerial engagement included meetings with Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, V Muraleedharan, to discuss a number of subjects including multilateral cooperation. It also included a meeting with Gujarati chief minister Vijay Rupani; discussions with regional governments and others on opportunities in wind power; and a virtual tour of a UK-funded solar plant in Rajasthan.