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 198.

    This is not just about trading with India it's Globalisation which I feel is good for the world in terms of bring us closer together, but from my experience for a lot of people Globalisation is creating a Nomad workforce which some can argue it's good experience for younger people with no ties but if you decide to have a family then that's when it becomes unworkable.

  • Comment number 197.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    I do find it interesting that the UK is forging and allying more and more nations outside Europe and is purposely casting away their neighbors and allies in Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    1.When two people in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary (William Wrigley, Jr)
    Brits not only that they dont do any thing for others
    but cant do any thing for others,
    and Indians have a history of being ruled
    as long as Brits remember that they will be all right

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    @50 I guess you talking out yer arse there my friend as you are implying that students can spend 3-5 years form filling?? I think not!! those students who must go through rigourous form filling are most likely those whose papers are NOT in order and rightly so, if you aint got the right paperwork for entry you do not enter!

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    3 years ago, my 30+ man software team was disbanded and the work moved to India.
    Over the last 2 years, the 2 other software teams have also been disbanded; and their work moved to India.
    Of the 100+ software engineers affected , only a handful still work in software development. All those high skills have been lost to the detriment of the UK.

    DC has no idea what is actually going on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    @178.Liquid Lunch
    "hot on the heels of the French selling military aircraft.... so what is Dave going to sell to the Indians, military hardware? I predict an arms deal..."

    I really hope you're right. We need some good news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Our relationship with India started as a trading relationship and soured terribly when the East India company went out of control and the government took over.

    Despite that, both India and Britain have trading in their blood and British and Indian people love working together - we do it very well. We are both nations of small businesses

    So, build on it!

    Any Indians want a British jingle writer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    The fact is that the UK makes it exceptionally difficult for non EU residents to visit our shores either for study or holidays.

    The procedure for example for Chinese tourists the highest spending in the World to visit the UK involves a protracted process 3 times as expensive and twice as long as for visits to all of the rest of the EU combined.

    This costs the UK economy billions a year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    The only thing we have to sell India is knowledge. When that is sold it is game over. The 'free-market' insists on looking for the best deal and if you can get that in India because of poverty and corruption then that is where the rich will make themselves even richer. Hopefully, the Indians will push to raise quality of life in their country.. but be clear that is not the purpose of the market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Great another opportunity to send more IT jobs to India where the quality of the work is hopeless. I deal with people from India every day and they are incapable of performing even the simplest tasks without hand holding. Companies may be saving money in staff costs (although I'm still not convinced about that) but they are sacrificing a lot in terms of quality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    cameron sees what others see- u.k. will NEVER recover, too expensive, full of our own bulls**t not world competetive.
    so lets try to befriend an emerging economy, and sit watching, just like a dog after the scraps off the plate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    We can have a relationship with anybody, but it needs to be equal
    i.e. the UK needs to be as protectionist as the country with whom we have a relationship.
    Too often we go overboard on the 'free market' stuff in trade agreements and then find that the other guy pulls up the drawbridge when it suits them...

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    re top rated 19

    If we are to trade only with countries with perfect Human Rights records then am I to presume that if we were to look around your house and those of all the + voters we would find no products from China?

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    What a surprise VAT Man lands in India and he tries to butter them up. I bet he wouldn't do that if he was back in the UK. He wants Indians to invest in the UK? If I was going to invest some money I'd want to take out more than I put in otherwise why bother? Can the UK afford to lose even more money overseas? I don't think so. He wants Indian students? I thought he planned to cap them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    the colony's on the other foot now,it seems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Oh great , just like the last Labour government - Promoting outsource of work from uk to India

    Your an idiot cameron along with your millionaire buddies. I have contempt for all 3 parties - all full of millionaires who have no idea of reality.

    It will mean lost uk jobs and more immigration - You morons

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Cameron tries to face both ways at once. We need access to the vast market India represents and our Universities need the money Indian students can bring so in India Cameron talks about partnership and cooperation. At home he needs to take votes from UKIP so he talks tough and frightens away Indian students and investment. Which comes first, party or country? What do you think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Gandhi must be laughing his socks off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    British whine about Indian outsourcing and aid with will be in 2 or 3 billion but the fact that us$ 50 billion worth of imports are coming in from china has eluded their eyes. Uneven trade deficit which might even reach a US $ 100 billion soon with china is what should be focussed on not these petty numbers!!


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