David Cameron urges India to open up to British business


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David Cameron has urged the Indian government to cut "regulation and red tape" in a bid to encourage more trade and investment involving UK businesses.

The prime minister said India "can be a difficult country to do business in" but insisted he wanted the UK to become India's economic "partner of choice".

He wanted to see UK firms playing a bigger role in a "more open, more flexible" Indian economy, he said.

Mr Cameron is on a three-day visit to India with a British trade delegation.

The PM has also outlined a same-day visa scheme to make the process easier for India's business community.

'Success story'

During what is Mr Cameron's second trip to India as UK PM, he is due to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee.

Speaking to the BBC's Jon Sopel, Mr Cameron said he would examine with his Indian counterpart how to "take down the barriers" between the two countries.

"We'll be saying to the Indians: 'We'd like to see your economy more open, more flexible, more easy to invest in, so that British firms in insurance or banking or retail can play a bigger part in the Indian economy.'

"It's a conversation we need to have, but a conversion that has two sides."

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When David Cameron says he wants Britain and India to forge one of the great partnerships of the 21st century, he knows he has some work to do”

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The prime minister insisted that India was "one of the great success stories of this century", adding that he believed it would be a "top three [world] economy" by 2030.

"I want Britain to be its partner of choice, helping to build those motorways, helping to provide those universities, helping to invest in healthcare and also encouraging Indian investment back into the UK," he said.

But Mr Cameron sounded a cautionary note over corruption in India, while admitting the British economy was not immune to rogue trading.

He said: "I don't come here to preach to anybody, but clearly every country has to be on their guard against bribery and corruption as the Indians themselves know."

Mr Cameron arrived in Mumbai on Monday with the biggest entourage of British business people ever taken on an overseas trip by a UK prime minister.

Those represented include BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, the London Underground and the English Premier League.

At a question-and-answer-session at Unilever headquarters in Mumbai, Mr Cameron said: "India's rise is going to be one of the great phenomena of this century and it is incredibly impressive to see.

"We've only just started on the sort of partnership that we could build. As far as I'm concerned, the sky is the limit."

Mr Cameron promised up to £1m to help fund a feasibility study into using British expertise to develop a "business corridor" between Mumbai and Bangalore.

'Valuable deals'

"It would unleash India's potential along the 1,000 kilometres from Mumbai to Bangalore, transforming lives and putting British businesses in prime position to secure valuable commercial deals," he added.

Among the businessmen joining Mr Cameron on the trip is the chief executive of the English Premier League, Richard Scudamore, who told the BBC that football was the fastest growing sport in India.

He said interest in the league had been growing exponentially.

"Ten years ago it was very small, and it's grown and we've just concluded our deals for the next three years, and we've had exponential growth here both in audience and revenue terms, so it's an increasingly important market for us."

Mr Scudamore added that the Premier League runs a skills and coaching initiative in India, in conjunction with the British Council, to further Indian interest in the sport.

Another of the trip's aims is to address controversy over the recent toughening of UK visa rules.

Mr Cameron said there was no limit on the number of Indian students that could come to British universities, as long as they had an English language qualification and a place to study.

In a round of TV interviews in Mumbai, Mr Cameron said Britain welcomed Indian university students.

"We want to make sure that we are attracting... the best and the brightest," he said.

"And in terms of our visa operation here in India, it is the biggest one we have anywhere in the world. Nine out of 10 of those who apply for a visa get one."

The prime minister also spoke of making Britain's visa system simpler for Indian businesses.

"We are introducing today a same-day visa service for business people who want to come to Britain for linking up their businesses for trade and other things like that," he said.

Later on Monday, Mr Cameron visited a memorial to the 16 Indian police officers killed during the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.

The prime minister laid a wreath in respect and listened as an honour guard played the Last Post.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    ugh stay there Cameron and NEVER RETURN your words are like your promises,100% bull. too busy prancing about in other countries telling them how to run it when you clearly cant run this one. bah what a joke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Why India? apart from that is where Lord Snooty is now. Loads of other places that deserve a bit of partnership, Pakistan being very high on the list.

    Great to be forging links - but be careful what you wish for - we all enjoy Indian call centres?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Colonialism is still alive and well then Can see it now, the United States of India and England. More Cameron froth then, pie in sky rhetoric that will "save" the UK from complete economic collapse.
    Don't forget this....
    Methinks Cameron is delivering yet another fantasy policy...

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Britain claimed India in the middle of the 19th Century and arrogantly called it 'The Jewel in the Crown' Independence was regained following opposition to British rule in the middle of the 20th Century.

    Strange we are now tugging at India's coat tails for a piece of, their soon to be substantial, pie.

    Lord Curzon's (Conservative statesman) assertion back then was spot on ! Google it !

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    @ 106. Harshal Vaidya

    Don't generalise public opinion based on the views spewed on HYS.

    Each morning when the topics for HYS are opened there are a couple of hundred of folks wearing either blue or red rosettes anxiously waiting to add either pro or anti comments depending upon the political party the story is about - they don't even read the article, never mind attempt to understand it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Just stay there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Why don't the people over 90% of the people commenting here suppposedly from the UK just elect Nick Griffin as their Prime Minister!?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    On the BBC this morning it states that the UK will double aid to India by 2016.

    Should that say 'bribe' rather than aid ?

    Why are we still giving India aid when they have enough money to fund a space program , which the UK doesn't have.

    The Indian goverment should be spending the aid where it's needed, and it's not needed in space !

    'Aid' at the cost of UK hospital closures etc etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    This partnership has been working in the IT industry for years. Firms advertise jobs at rates no experienced British person can afford to live on, then when no one applies they use this as an excuse to import cheap Indian labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    What hasn't been reported is that Francoise Hollande has been doing exactly the same thing... it'll be interesting to see how this one pans out.
    However make no mistake about it. Whats going on here as far as the UK is concerned is cheap labour,

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    It's time the PM put our own interests first and safeguarded jobs for British nationals instead of inviting Indians here to take jobs that should go to our own people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    "asked during the curtain-raising Q&A session which Indian dishes he was hoping to sample, he replied that it would be a Kerala fish curry - to see if it compares to my wife's".

    I thought so Dave is hoping to curry favour over something fishy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    As an Indian it is really unfortunate to look at so many hate comments. My advice Mr Cameron would be - please do more business with Pakistan and leave India alone. That way the people who are crying about ill educated, outsourcing jobs, doom for UK IT industry etc will be happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    This is the same country we're giving hundreds of millions of pounds in aid yet their economy is massive compaired to ours, surly it should be the other way round?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Our profit-maximising career Politicians will not be happy until the UK is one heaving super-metropolis with worse pollution than China.

    It was reported last week of the rapidily rising migrant crime in the UK not to mention the huge housing crisis, NHS, policing crisis we already have and here is Cameron & wealthy chums inviting MORE into the UK.

    The destruction of the UK continues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Does DC mean a great partnership where every manufacturing job among much else moves to India to make large company directors and their shareholders even richer? What would the average Brit get out of this partnership exactly apart from every stitch they wear and every thing they own being made elsewhere?

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Many of the comments on this topic seem to be attacking each other.

    Companies can bring foreigners into this country if those people are part of a foreign subsidiary. This results in significant numbers of people brought in to do UK work and UK work is shipped out to the subsidiary, depending on whether the work must be done in the UK.

    Can we stop fighting each other and unite?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Another headline grabbing exercise instead of addressing current issues.

    Implement the Leveson recommendations.

    Prosecute those at DEFRA who were told of horsemeat in our food 5 years ago.

    Explain why Bute was dangerous to humans before it was found in our burgers and lasagne and we are now told it is fine.

    Fed up with all the lies and incompetence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Should we be doing business with a country with a history of human rights abuses? Ams deals with Sausi Arabia and now this, makes you wonder if human rights abuse is considered an inconvenient truth to Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    And then people will be asking why our kids do not have the chance to work in the IT sector?

    How do you want unemployement to decrease and the youngs to get enough skills if the goverment is flooding the market?

    Seriously this is a goverment who does not care about the young and imports cheap labour because that suits the businesses..


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