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 538.

    514Any Brit that thinks UK isn't as corrupt and undemocratic as anyone else is deluding themeslves.British holier than thou attitude stinks.The number of corruption scandals in the UK is legion leading right up to the current horsemeat scandal.As to democracy why has it taken this long to get a referendum on ceding sovereignty to a foreign power and why is it being used to skew the next election?

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    I just came back from Mumbai.
    It smelled really bad and there were loads of tramps.
    I dont think we should do business with them, although the hotel I stayed in was nice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    If we are going to be partners, will we still have to give aid?

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    452. Tiger
    Considering the number of UK jobs that have been outsourced to India, I think it’s fair to ask how many jobs would return as part of Dave’s “Great Partnership – if any?
    I read that UK aid is due to finish in 2015 - Is the real reason for the visit?


  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    UK can expect a true & healthy business partnership from India. But not expect a puppet political support, one which like US & UK. India will never leave democratic Iran for Saudi Monarchy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    On the other hand, if there is a ray of genuinity in this visit, Britian has a open window to repair past and further strengthen two democracies. Two dinamic democracies can be an envy of any given courntry; both in the East and the West. But, all things political aren't always with the purest of intention. We'll have to see, what will come out of this grand spectacle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    I fully support our Politicians taking time off from their real job and flying to far flung places of under the guise of drumming up trade.

    What I really object to is them coming back!

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    Very interesting that DC chose Unilever to take a Q&A and call for closer links with India to boost the UK ecomomy. Think I am right to say that Unilever are currently transferring IT jobs to India from the UK - Confusing...

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    @487 squirrel

    India already has a populaion of some 200 million muslims (who are a minority) they also have a significant proportion of forigners from the commonwelth and elsewhere choosing to work or retire there (journalist, businessmen, cricketers etc). there dosen't seem to be much of a fuss.
    Not sure how China would react.

  • Comment number 529.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    Damn good speech, Prime Minister.

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    It took India to recover just about and still is recovering for over 60 years now. Hope, this time India wont' have any sour teeth by past colonial monster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    521.tiefflieger: "Dearest Gusgog (489)! I'm glad that you mentioned health care! I had several medical problems some years ago. One required an operation, but I would have had to wait six months. Instead, I took myself off to Germany and was treated within five days. The hospital was marvellous.."

    Excellent, then curing your misery prolapse should be a doddle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    @ 500.B Burnett - If India is such a progressive market, why don't you want to go back to for work?

    For the very simple reason why one from the UK would go to australia, usa or canada. get some world exposure for the money you pay for your education.

    and would you pay for something in return for nothing...hmmmmm !!!1

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    The state to partner with is Gujarat - with a handsome growth rate among Indian states..Haven't seen his agenda having that on the list ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    Brilliant, India has superlative businessmen, who knows we could get a Hindu chancellor!

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    Just now
    The pound falls against the Dollar and the Euro - Cameron get back here and sort out our economy now!!!!
    We want the pound to drop, please study economics before making daft comments. Why do you think theyre predicting ccy wars as the Yen looses value? Its how Germany has become such a large exporter as the Euro doesnt rise as it should due to southern europe

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    Dearest Gusgog (489)! I'm glad that you mentioned health care! I had several medical problems some years ago. One required an operation, but I would have had to wait six months. Instead, I took myself off to Germany and was treated within five days. The hospital was marvellous, with excellent food, free beer and friendly, contented staff, from the Director to the cleaning ladies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    The pound falls against the Dollar and the Euro - Cameron get back here and sort out our economy now!!!!

    ..... and stop giving our money away

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    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 as soon as they tie-up. They have nothing to offer India as the final two nails have been stuck in the coffin by stopping aid and visas. Now all they want is Indian Moola!! Im not sure India is going to fall for it!!


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