UKIBC Interaction with High Commissioner of India

By Emma Lynch

On 16 April, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) hosted an exclusive interaction with the High Commissioner of India.

UKIBC Chair Richard Heald moderated the session during which the High Commissioner of India, HE Gaitri Issar Kumar, heard from a group of UKIBC Strategic Partners and Corporate Plus members on their companies’ India activities, plans, and “asks” from the Government of India. Also representing the Government of India were Mr Rajendra Ratnoo, Joint Secretary at DPIIT, Deepak Bagla, Managing Director and CEO of Invest India, and Rohit Vadhwana, First Secretary (Eco, Press & Info), High Commission of India.

The High Commissioner’s comments were wide-ranging and she noted that, due to Brexit, the UK is changing and that it is doing so in a changing world, not least because of the pandemic. It has become evident during this time that the UK and India are natural partners, which has created a positive context for the two countries to agree a new set of priorities for the relationship. A new roadmap – which is about to be announced by the two Prime Ministers – will set out a new agenda covering trade & investment, healthcare, climate change, defence and security, and the people to people connections – “the living bridge”.

Correspondingly, the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) is taking shape and will lead to a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. This ETP will focus on removing trade barriers – both tariff and non-tariff barriers – and will quickly seek to capture the ‘low-hanging fruit’.

The High Commissioner made the important point that India is one of the few countries on track to meet its zero-carbon emissions target. Renewable energy and alternative energy are areas where India has shown strength. The High Commissioner urged that this is the time for UK industry and investors to look at India. The UK is projected to become the second largest source of foreign direct investment in India after the United States.

Currently, there is huge interest in high technology, defence, space, cyber security, and lab work related to COVID-19, such as vaccines and observing variants of the virus. These areas could be of particular importance for UK businesses to invest in India.

The High Commissioner made the encouraging point that the meeting would be the first of many with UK businesses to understand and seek to address any ease of doing business issues they face in India.

We at the UKIBC were delighted to facilitate this session alongside the High Commission of India, and to see such strong commitment to the bilateral relationship. With the upcoming virtual interaction between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the G7 meeting in the UK in June, we look forward to further strengthened UK-India relationship as we work toward a free trade agreement.

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