Boris Johnson will visit India in January in an effort to boost trade and promote his “Global Britain” agenda.
The visit will come shortly after the UK leaves the European Union’s single market and customs union and is a sign that the Prime Minister intends to focus on building links in the Indo-Pacific region.
Mr Johnson will also invite India to attend the G7 summit hosted by the UK in 2021 as a guest nation, along with South Korea and Australia.
During the visit, the Prime Minister will be only the second British leader since Indian independence to attend the country’s annual Republic Day parade in New Delhi as guest of honour, after Sir John Major in 1993.
The Prime Minister was invited to India by counterpart Narendra Modi.
The Prime Minister said: “I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister Modi and I have pledged to achieve.
“As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet.”
It will be the first major bilateral visit of the Johnson premiership, a period which has seen travel curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Downing Street emphasised the importance of trade links between the two countries, with 842 Indian companies in the UK with a combined turnover of £41.2 billion and more than 400 British firms in India.
India supplies more than 50% of the world’s vaccines, with a billion doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine being manufactured in Pune, and the UK sourced 11 million face masks and three million packets of paracetamol from the country during the pandemic.
Officials said the visit would provide Mr Johnson with the chance to focus on his international priorities for 2021 – trade and investment, defence, health and climate change.
During the course of 2021, the UK will host both the G7 and the United Nations COP26 climate summits, as well as a global education conference aimed at getting girls into school, and an event to mark the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in 1946.