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 158.

    50. SeeDubya

    Utter rubbish. The government put in place controls to stop bogus students getting visa to come here apparently to study but in fact get black market jobs. What you have written is complete and utter fallacy. You clearly have a stupid political agenda rather than a sensible input to a very clear, positive, cultural and economic position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Cameron is right about history & timing. My grandparents were Indian, my parents (1947+) Pakistani, then British (1960), my dad a BOAC engineer (project Concorde). Historically, Pakistan has been the bigger ally of Britain.. but has fallen & fallen. India (as Thatcher concluded in her last book) is our economic reality. But we MUST also impart our fair-trade ethics for India's OCEAN OF POVERTY.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    If the Prime Minister really wants to help the UK do business with India, then he needs to make the banks offer credit against more Indian companies. The only way this can happen, is if our Banks work closely with the Indian banks. Doing everything on a letter of credit makes the whole process difficult. Also - stop focusing and representing big enterprise!

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Having spoken to quite a few folk at random about this it seems there's hardly anyone who wants this at all....Just who is it you're supposed to be representing Dave? Because it certainly doesn't look like it's the general electorate of the UK who you're supposed to represent & work for!

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I hope Indians read between the lines. Doing business with Britain is like marrying into a big joint family with a bunch of whiners who will pull it down the lane as soon as they tie-up. They have nothing to offer India as the final two nail have been stuck in the coffin by stopping aid and visas. Now all they want is Indian Moola!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    India will never be a global economic super-power. reasons for this where put forward in a enlighten way by Mr Biswas.. anyone who has been to Indian know that the Indian people are a warm polite and open people. I the wealthy higher cast there still remains a what I call RAJ supporters who view those days with nostalgia. The man in the street will happily tell you of the shocking corruption...

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    Colonial Masters back in town,they are there to access Indian Markets and sell their goods to India,UK economy is in red since 2007,Only thing mean to them is business everything else they say is just full of nonsense to please the public,If they really want to cooperate with Indian public they must investigate AUGSTAWESTLAND by its Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and book it under AntiBriberyAct 2010

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I am a technologist and innovation consultant living in UK. Where are my clients: Mostly US and far east (including majorly from India). I am also of Indian origin now settled permanently in UK. Either the UK/EU is down, or people are not open about doing business with an Indian in UK. I presume and only hope the earlier is true !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    I am no Cameron lover, but he is right on this issue.
    The UK must focus its export growth in emerging markets. The European Union and other western economies are in long term decline, and it is vitally important for the UKs future prosperity, to target Brazil, Russia, India and China along with other emerging markets. It is businessmen, not politicians, who will make this happen in reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    So we only want Indian students if they can get jobs in this country? Where exactly are British students meant to get jobs if they're all being given away?

    British jobs for foreign workers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Until they sort out their massive poverty problem (seem more interested in spaceships and nuclear weapons than feeding their people), and their despicable treatment of women I don't want us forming any solid partnership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    "Mr Cameron has appeared to indicate that the UK's visa process could be made easier for Indian businesses." How? In business you can't build trust changing the rules of the game every year. Also, is it just Indian business that is hit by this government's populist visa games? What about UK businesses for whom hiring a highly skilled non-EU worker has been made close to impossible?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Let's stop the aid first, then talk about "partnerships".

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Nichman..a divided flawed mess!..how dare you....no doubt India is still reshaping its society after being raped and pillaged by the British Empire who took(stole) enourmous wealth from our country towards your own country..India has still alot of work to be done..no doubt theres corruption..but the last people we need to hear sermons on morality is the British..

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    How's about a partnership between the government and it's people to sort out rip off Britain first?

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Amazing how rabidly incoherent the Left are.

    One moment they want the Government to do more to create UK jobs. Then they are in outrage when Cameron tries to do just that.

    India has more middle class people than the total UK population size.This is a massive potential market for British brands.

    That the Left can't see it shows how warped their views have become by their ideological hatred.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Will this mean that we can stop the £100s millions of tax payers money being given to india in aid so they can buy other nations produce.
    Obviously, they don't need it if they are doing so well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    So many of us cannot understand Indian call centre English, this can only make things worse.
    A partnership of misunderstanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    It comes as no surprise he threw open the doors to the UK for the whole population of India and a week later he states he wants to do great trade.
    Well he may as well send the invites to Romania and Bulagaria because they are members of the EU and India if i'm not mistaken are not and i'm certain the people of Brussels will object to this fellowship with india.
    This is about money nothing more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Sadly the United Kingdom does not have anything to offer India and Cameron's visit will be viewed as a loathsome attempt to reassert colonial ties that died more than 50 years ago. India buy their planes from France, they turned back UK 'aid' last year because their reputation is better without it. Indian politicians rightly despise the UK and will get whatever they want from us from now on.


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