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 218.

    @5 Nichman:

    "Its a shame its a corrupt, divided, flawed mess, with some of the largest wealth gaps in the world. Still, there are no scruples in diplomancy, we need that piece of the pie!"

    I got lost, were you talking about India or the United States?! ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Do you think he can do something about the obnoxious Indian cold callers trying to scam people into thinking there is something wrong with their computer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Yes India, come and buy up a piece of Britain. There's still a few bits we have not sold off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    International students are THE BEST CASH COWS out there..12000 pounds for a place in a one building university, fill in low grade housing reantals and sustain the housing bubble, do mostly unwanted part time jobs which locals do not want to do, charge exhorbitant immigration fees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    203. realisticlogic. I couldnt agree with you more.

    If we are going into partnership with India there will be benefits for both parties therefore ALL aid must stop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    I understand how this could be beneficial to us but at what price? India is sadly corrupt and the people suffer for it. These corrupt politicians will demand aid from their newly found friend which we will willingly oblige to meaning that more of our money gets poured into the pockets of the politicians as they will "help" their people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    The student visa system needed tightening up. If colleges somehow think we have to have an open door immigration policy so they can get deposits from economic migrants they are wrong

    I am sure the number of high quality students applying for high quality places at mainstream Universities has not changed but this wont be reported

    As for the Indians, try get a visa to visit India !

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Get back on the plane Dave get your backside back home and put your energy into creating a high skilled manufacturing base in the UK.
    This is the only vaible option for the UK in years to come, we will not compete with low skilled economies by doing the same in the UK.
    Make a start with building our own Nuclear power stations and then retaining the skills in the UK.
    This is the future Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    what have the poor people of india done to deserve a deal with the biggest conman in the world . I can see the sub-continent being ripped off now by the current spivs in westminster . they are not allowed here for education but they are prime for being scammed .

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Oh great , just like the last Labour government ..along with your millionaire buddies. I have contempt for all 3 parties - all full of millionaires who have no idea of reality.

    Hey - let's put a geology student in charge!

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    193. Big John the Red - And that is why im a freelancer

    No company in uk deserves any loyalty. The hire and fire culture - where it seems management protect themselves and outsources all the workers below them abroad etc -

    But then managers protect their own because alot of them just like the police are masons - Which i have utter contempt for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Will they want to work with a country with idiots (or liars?) in the the Bank of England that claim the UK will boost its trade by devaluation of the pound? Do they know anything about the cost content of our exported goods? India, don't waste your time and money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    To those attacking Indian probity. Please get a life. We have corrupt MP's, Bankers, Police and Journalists. Failing institutions, scandals in the NHS, a failing education system and systematic sexualisation of young people. We really are in no position to lecture anyone. If we engage with India, via trade and culturally we might both be able to build on whats best about each nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    India would rather trade with the EU than Britain. The UK is dividing itself into smaller economies and will have less influence on the world stage in the future, when it leaves the EU. What has Britain done to India apart from massacring their people when they were part of the British Empire (e.g. 1919,1922..)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    How can you condone a partnership and pay increasing aid payments (£100s millions) to a country that lets its people live in sheds, treat women as second rate possessions yet can afford a space program, squadrons of fighter jets and have a criminally corrupt gov,t.
    I bet Cameron will only want to be partners with the wealthiest sector of india.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Over the last twenty years have done a lot of business in India - it's been good fun, professionally rewarding and very useful to the UK in terms of tax receipts and the addtional technical development benefits from the experience. This has also gven me the opportunty to do busness in China - with similar results. I can't see that there is any downside - for either party. Lets get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    if Dave is smart, next stop Pakistan to sell some military hardware to them too... Arm both sides equally; that is only fair after all ! Indian and Pak governments should be ashamed with so many poor..

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.


    Your an idiot cameron"

    I doubt he's such an idiot that he doesn't know the difference between "your" and "you're".

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Only the continent of Africa exceeds the cultural diversity of India. India is a heterogenous melting pot born of former states to create one nation which has doubled in population in 50 years. Political unity is key to provide a foundation for the rest of us to trade with and socialise with Indias' people. It is exciting, creative, expansive and yet socially much work is still required.


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