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 138.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this strategic partnership; it's far easier, morally, to get angry and shout at call centre staff if they can barely understand you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    This is Cameron & chums feathering their own nests because they know come next General Election, they are out.

    But is gives a real bitter taste knowing this bunch of self-serving Tory rodents will have their lives paved with platinum once kicked out of power.

    Our Political system remains rotten to the core.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Let's revive our own steel industry instead of negotiating tariffs with India,which I am sure is an intention.And the same with coal.I no longer accept that it's un-economical to mine our own minerals.
    Students? The system was being heavily abused and had to be tightened up.Genuine students will have no difficulty in getting visas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    "Mr Cameron told his audience that there was no limit on the number of Indian students that could come to British universities, so long as they had an English language qualification and a place to study." Why not? It's not like the British can aford university courses in UK anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    As an Indian I would recommend you to send your leaders and civil service officers to India to help administer it. We just can't look after ourselves. Churchill was right. Our leaders are scumbags, Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Laloo Prasad, mamta, Butcher Modi, are some of the best we have come up with. Please build some bridges, dams and roads too. The ones we built just don't seem to last long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    “he stressed how there was a "warm welcome" for those who wanted to make a "positive contribution" to the UK.”

    Was talking to potential Tory party donors?

    “The prime minister said he was hoping to "put an even more attractive offer on the table" when it came to visa services to Indian business travellers.”

    I guess that he was.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Mr Cameron. A good first step would be to form a 'partnership' with the Liberal Ditherers whose main objectives seem to be more spending on aid and benefits and then more taxes on anyone who has had the audacity to save anything.

    The old saying of trying to teach worms to race springs to mind.

    Once you have brought them into line you can face the rest of the world with confidence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I would love the UK to help those in dire need no matter where in the world but have come to the conclusion that while the elderly here at home can't afford to heat their homes or have to sell their homes to pay for help it is wrong to give India aid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    I'm working with a multi national company and would like to tell you some business policy. The GVP and VP's force UK to send work to India. You know why? Because the contracts are quoted so low that if you keep on using UK resources, every project would go in a loss. Hence, they do this - to have enough net profit and to enable them to pay their own people get their salary on time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    I dont understand the displeasure at partnering with India. I think many are still caught up in the outsourcing paradigm. Its a different game now. India is restructuring its national innovation systems. If UK dosen't act now, it stands to loose in the future. You cannot expect Indians to continue living 20 years behind the west. So clearly India presents a long term opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    It's easy to whine hatefully about jobs taken by immigrants or exported out of the UK when your whole life is built around being a wage slave.

    A world of opportunity exists for open minds willing to grasp it. Well done DC, though I'll never in a million years vote Tory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    In our trade you have to go where the work is which is mostly now done in India or Asia, not because you get a better service or they are better at their jobs it's basically comes down to labour costs which unfortunately is a product of the capitalist system we live in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    #106.Harshal Vaidya As an Indian it is really unfortunate to look at so many hate comments
    It is not hate comments, it is reality. Is the Indian cast system not real? Why did many banks recall their call centers?What about the culture of saying yes to everything? Employers have published official docs of working practices with Indian partners & its appalling

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Rolls Royce and BAE Systems? Nice to know that we are still World leaders at arming developing countries to the teeth

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    An Anglo-Indian partnership would be a great thing. Sure, there have been some notable ups and downs in the history of the two, but India remains the emerging economy with whom we have the most mutual trust.

    Anyway, unlike our EU neighbours, Britain's trade has always had a more global perspective. There's no reason that should change, especially given the atrophying economic mess in Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Start stocking up on your pollution masks India. Just ask China, they will tell you where they got them from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Team up with one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. Brilliant!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Hypocrisy is ...... punishing UK citizens constantly for the failures of the world financial services industries , using the all to frequent pretext of "global warming" , whilst cosying up to and currying favour with THE biggest actual polluters in the world ...... India or China. Build up UK industry and jobs , do NOT outsource or sell it off cheap to foreigners !

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    106.@ Vaidya.
    we do not want a reverse RAJ.. is that not acceptable to you ? why the bile ? India for the Indians O.K. just as we would like to see Indian and Indian culture thrive, we would be happy if you could extend us the same courtesy. that is not tooooo much to ask is it ? so why the spitting venom ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Isn't it about time we stopped giving Overseas Aid to India?


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