Decoding the future of the UK-India Relationship – Delhi

By Divya Dwivedi, Surbhi Mathur

AS UK BUSINESSES STRIVE FOR A KEY ROLE IN THE EMERGING INDIAN MIRACLE, The UK India Business Council organised a panel discussion on “Decoding the future of the UK-India Relationship” on 28 March 2018 in New Delhi

This was a prelude and curtain raiser for the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UK in April 2018 on the sidelines of CHOGM. This is being seen as a landmark visit to strengthen the UK-India forward-looking partnership.

We were delighted to be joined by Mr Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, Sir Dominic Asquith, KCMG, British High Commissioner to India, and Richard Heald, OBE, Group CEO, UK India Business Council as our key panellists, and to have the session moderated by Ms Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC TV18.

Chief Guest Mr Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, DIPP, was optimistic about the UK-India future relationship despite Brexit, as this presents an opportunity for UK and India to ink their own pacts and treaties.

He prioritised the SME connect between UK and India to be a significant contributor to deepen ties between the two countries, along with a focus on innovation and technology collaboration. He further added that Indian SMEs require hand holding as it is at the nascent stages to get the right kind of growth, which presents the two countries with a unique opportunity to collaborate.

Scaling up of startups in India was also identified as a potential area of collaboration. India’s incredible jump of 30 ranks in the Ease of Doing Business parameter has been lauded by the UK which itself ranks amongst the top 7 countries globally on the ease of doing business parameters. Therefore, identification of the right kinds of regulations that can be adopted from the UK for improving the business environment in India, will be an important area of collaboration between the two countries.

UK companies have shown a keen interest in investing in Indian automotive clusters and in augmenting its design capabilities. Indian companies also look at investment in UK companies as favourable as it provides them with a gateway to the rest of Europe. This remains unchanged even after Brexit.

Defence is another strategic sector where UK industry has a keen interest in India.

Sir Dominic Asquith, KCMG, British High Commissioner to India, emphasised technology collaboration, from artificial intelligence, block chain technology, setting up of manufacturing centres, and technology clusters, to be priority areas for the UK and India.

India and the UK have proved to be responsible global powers with immense scope and opportunity for collaborative business. To bolster growth and increase faith in private players for identifying the right opportunities in either countries, a modern and forward-looking trade arrangement, such as a bilateral investment treaty, will become the right enabler in the shared finance and investment ecosystem.

Defence, healthcare, data security, disaster management, electric vehicles, higher education, and skills were some of the sectors of collaboration which were identified during the discussions.

UK India Business Council’s report, The UK and India: Bilateral Investment Relationship, was also released at the session.

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