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 578.

    I give Dave his due. He is out there looking for business with his flunkies.

    My only concern is the last time hit involved thousands of UK private and public sectorm jobs going to call centres, admin processing centres, and sweatshop manufacturing facilities in India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    India isn't going to stop becoming more powerful and wealthy. If the UK doesn't work with them and cash in then other countries will so let's use our historic Commonwealth links to get into prime position to share the wealth they will create.

    Good luck to the PM and UK businesses in bringing this about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    Paul Barrett-Brown

    I've seen stories vanish too. Just the juicy ones mind!

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    qwerty, @554 I think you may have a point. Hence the inclusion of BAE and Rolls Royce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    Cameron just needs to get OUR money back, we have given them billions over the years. He helps other countrys but not his own. They even have a space centre. It's just mad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    Will we be encouraging Indian students to study geology?

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    #543 Rahul

    Ha... JLR.... depends what you read. Rumour is they have been propping up Tata.


    The difference is...if Tata decide to pull the plug it will be much easier won't it... all those whining workers will be 1/2 a world away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    Here's the issue I have with this, many Indian companies are within the services sector, such companies routenly ignore our data protection laws when doing business on behalf of UK/EU companies, they use VOIP to make their calls, which makes there cold calls hard to screen, especially if like me you have family overseas, this has to be sorted Mr Cameron before you give away yet more British jobs

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    We're in debt, and borrowing £Millions daily. How can we afford charity to foreigners?
    It's like a bankrupt borrowing money to lend to a stranger.

    How about we keep British taxpayer funds in Britain?
    I'd like to see the document that grants permission to an elected bureaucrat to take your wages away and to give them to foreigners to develop a "business corridor" in that foreign country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    Hurrah for Mr Cameron.
    He is doing a jolly good job traveling to parts of the old Empire to drum up trade with these people.
    He must be exhausted after all of the travel, but still has time for a game of cricket on the lawn in Bombay. Jolly go show old boy.

  • Comment number 568.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    Let us be quite clear about this. UK business needs India, but apart from some highly specialist areas of very high tech, India does not need the UK. India has declined to buy our Typhoon fighter and is now threatening to cancel its contract for Westland Merlin helicopters. This confirms how one-sided such a 'partnership' will be in reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    8 Minutes ago
    522.where am I
    4 Minutes ago

    Theyre, doesnt? Learn to use an apostrophe before criticising me.
    I was criticising your post's lack of knowledge and if the best reply you can come up with is punctuation then clearly I'm right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    Very interesting, the link to 'David Cameron steps up British trade mission in India' also titled ' Cameron changes strategy on India' seems to have been pulled ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21496563 ) - has the article been pulled also (I have searched for it but without success), and if so, why?

    Is this Orwell's 1984 where 'news' is rewritten for political expediency?

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    @525 Tiger

    They pay to get a UK education in return. They do not pay for the right to work in the UK automatically. If Indian students think they can just waltz out of a UK Uni and automatically given a work permit, well they have been misinformed. I agree everyone wants foreign work experience but you need to earn it, it is not a god-given right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Making a partnership with a country that has obscene mistreatment of its women and instead of putting aid money towards a space program instead of aiding the poor?

    Why is Cameron in charge? Nobody actually voted for him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    The Indian people seem ok, but the Indian government is terrible (but improving). They have the ninth largest GDP on Earth, a space program, and 30% of the population live in poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    from my past comment:Please assume an open window to repair the past. I was hungry to type articles.

    -----------Well we all need betterment and peace. I am sure. The least we can do it in this changing and ever dinamic world of ours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    Dearest Gusgog (526) - you are right, my misery will start to fade as soon as my Eurostar pulls into Cologne, and will evaporate completely as soon as my luxurious Bundesbahn ICE crosses the Bavarian border. The problem with the hapless British (if indeed there are any) is that they have never experienced a better way of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    So many negative comments. I don't want to spend more on overseas aid either, I've said so on here many times. But we need to think about what is going to feed us all in the future, Europe is no 1 on my list but we can't ignore places such as India also. For all you nay-sayers, perhaps we can work out how to make it a profitable relationship? Well?


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