Vaccine spat is unhealthy for UK-India trade talks

The sticking point is vaccine certificates but India has set a high global standard with its QR code-enabled digital version

  
Women wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD vaccine, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, outside a vaccination centre in Kolkata, India, August 31, 2021.

Women wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD vaccine, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, outside a vaccination centre in Kolkata, India, August 31, 2021.

REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

MUMBAI - The UK’s position on India’s vaccine program is an awkward backdrop to trade talks scheduled for later this year. New Delhi is upset that fully jabbed Indians must quarantine on arrival in the UK, even if they have received the same AstraZeneca formula used in Britain’s rollout.

The sticking point is vaccine certificates but India has set a high global standard with its QR code-enabled digital version. What’s more, its massive production of AstraZeneca vaccines, known locally as Covishield, is supposed to be an example of the strong potential for collaboration between the two countries. The health sector is also a key area in a 2030 roadmap for cross-border cooperation detailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May.

Amid chatter of retaliatory action by New Delhi, both sides can gain by giving a little faster. India could open up to tourists, like the UK. A potential trade deal will shore up the idea of a global-facing Britain post-Brexit and underscore Modi’s export ambitions. (By Una Galani)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

(Editing by Robyn Mak and Katrina Hamlin) ((SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe))


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