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 618.

    598@ tonep

    Yes I agree it is text book stuff, I cannot imagine Sillyband or Ballsup able to pull off a drive like that. They would most likely hit their own wickets.
    best place for them is just where they are with their politics '' silly mid on..

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    Immigration is worse from countries like India and Pakistan than even the EU. It is time to stop mass immigration, until the issues with the last 10 years are cleared up. It is then necessary to cap immigration at 50K a year. As far as I am concerned, MASS immigration has reduced standards in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    " flipmode
    Everytime D.C. gives 'aid' to another country...

    Postcode lottery for cancer treatment, neglect of social care for the elderly, and the story goes on . . "

    We spend £120B a year on the NHS or about £2000 per citizen. Overseas aid is about £8B or £130 per citizen. How would removing aid to the poorest people in the world materially make a difference to some of the richest?

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    It's all very well going to India for trade deals and such but surely Cameron is going back on his word regarding immigration, this should not be relaxed because of this but tightened. obviously politicians go around blinkered and not see the problems being created with over immigration, and it will get worse once the Romanians and Bulgarians arrive with their children and grandparents etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    Him and his nasty party have whipped up the anti immigrant propoganda in the UK. He has now has been told that actually this is not a good policy for the UK. so he heads off to India to say that everyone is welcome.. can someone tell him the press go to India, and we can hear what he is saying - is he relly this dim? Oh and stay away until Easleigh is decided.. just in case the Torys get hammered.

  • Comment number 613.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    "Foreign aid is taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries: too much foreign aid money gets cornered by local elites in recipient countries"
    ~Congressman Ron Paul

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    Give it a rest will you.?
    Why? Have we apologised in the meanwhile?

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    cracking stroke, Prime Minister!

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    David G
    " Apparently someone hasn't lost colonial inhumane mentality"

    The same colonial inhumane mentality that gave a home to thousands of Ugandan Asians ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.


    I agree completely with you however if Britain only traded with 'good guys' soon there would be no one left to trade with. India in the next decades will follow the lead of China, massive land, populations and resources. I for one would love if Britain got a huge economic boost from this as it would help everyone in this country as well as in India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.

    Can't make my mind up whether this guy is a UK PM or a village idiot! Off he goes to India to drum up trade between the 2 countries but past experience shows that the losers in these situations are always the BRITISH WORKING CLASS! who lose out on jobs & DC being a tory, they will lose out on the benefits that they (in the main) have paid for! Is this FAIR?

  • rate this

    Comment number 606.

    Unfortunately, India will not be a success story. It is in a permanent state of being an emerging power. It is a chaotic, violent, primitive place. There, I said it - I hope this gets through.

  • rate this

    Comment number 605.

    #599. freemind66

    ...and let's remember that even while you now earn nothing and you're Indian replacement earns less than you did... some Fat Cat is sitting there laughing all the way to the bank.

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    Stand back Mr Putin here is our very own action man - David Cameron - I will be ordering the action doll for my kids for Christmas, awesome!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    If 9 out of 10 Indians applying already get a visa does that mean by making it easier 10 out of 10 will get one. I tell you what David I'll move into the park and let an Indian family have my house. At least you've secured god knows how many British Indian votes for the next election. Clever man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    Democratic country like Britain and its civilian like Mr. Matthew to regard the world largest democracy can be used with slavery for cheap goods exporting to Britian is preposterous. Apparently someone hasn't lost colonial inhumane mentality; see mind like this needs to come to human terms before making any " bossy" if not " bully" attitude known out in public forum of the sort.

  • rate this

    Comment number 601.

    These photos are nothing but a charade and does nothing for me... they bore me sick!

    Cameron wants to be getting his ministers in order along with the NHS and Food problems we're having rather than go cavorting in other countries.

    Noted, he's no pads on, obviously, his cricketing is better than his politics so he's in the wrong job!

    Someone send him a 'fast un', a bouncer or one on his legs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    Table football in Afghanistan, cricket in India, all we need is a rendition of Tiptoe through the Tulips from Ed in Holland and we will all know we are truly blessed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.

    I think this is fabulous and it's already in progress. I was made redundant at the end of December from Lloyds Bank. The last thing I did prior to leaving was train up my replacement from India because they can do my job a lot cheaper. In fact, most of the bank's IT work is now done in India and several of my former colleagues are also unemployed as a result.
    Great for the British economy!


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