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 658.

    634. freemind66

    "The reality is that British workers will lose their jobs as work is simply outsourced to companies in India offering to do it for cheaper. This is already happening in the finance sector."

    ... And it has been happening in the IT sector for YEARS already.

    Some of us were lucky enough to keep our jobs - putting right the JUNK that is sent from India!

    Profit always comes first!

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    They can find no excuse for invading India (again) so the only way is this ploy. So will this now stop Microsoft "experts" giving me a bell and saying that I have a problem with my computer?

    India, if I were you I'd keep away from anything the UK offers in the way of trade agreements. I wouldn't trust this government with a boiled egg let alone anything to do with honour and trust and decency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    the usual story of both shades of government is stuffing the pockets of global corporates: creating wealth is great but perhaps we should look at where the wealth is going (one or two pockets in the country is not enough)

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    So that's Cameron's future for Britain - client state to large Asian economies. India's Nicaragua? Scraps from the table - rather than becoming a strong force within the fast-unifying continent to which we belong, and as part of which we'd compete with Asian economies on equal terms.Money to help develop industries there to compete with ours? Madness, even if it is only £1m and to British firms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    How would removing aid to the poorest people in the world make a difference...?
    By not taxing our citizens to pay foreigners we have more money in our pockets with which to buy products made in poor countries.

    Removal of trade barriers allows commerce to flourish to both populations' mutual benefit.

    People in poor countries don't benefit from our charity, they benefit from jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    Some strategic thinking at last!
    I say give him full marks for making the effort when other politicians seem happy to sit on their thumbs and blame the other side.

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    Why should India trade much with UK a nation 4500 miles away when most India's needs are available nearer and cheaper?.India should trade with UK in sectors not easily available in Asia. UK is in decline, EEC leaders will keeping coming to booming India but India must learn from its past history. India was made poor from being the richest by British. rule, Let history not repeat. itself?

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    David Cameron is absolutely right to tighten the special relationship with India. With the EU likely to recover and the free trade deal with the US looking to go ahead soon, we will soon be part of the most powerful trading block ever that will pulverise China's ambitions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    607.muff - "Can't make my mind up whether this guy is a UK PM or a village idiot!..........."
    Unfortnately he is both....."

    Seem to recall you saying he was the Tories greatest asset! See what you mean.
    Mop Head goes to India, now Flashman, Indians must think UK is ruled by clowns!

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.

    Ridiculous - so now all our jobs will be going out to India just like the call centres and more made redundant in the UK. Why on earth are our Govt not focussing on making jobs for the people here in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    Striking shot Mr C, striking pose as well the Indians will love you.
    Talking about striking, it has been nice having the news read by one person, No Breakfast and its advertising, four HYS's open for comment. Have the journos bowled themselves a googlie.

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    Why has Bastiat's post been removed TMR?

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    From the photo, Mr Cameron has a lovely front foot drive ! Great knee bend, still head, good batting grip and balance in the follow through with the bat. If all else fails, we'd find him a place in our second team.

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    In 1750 India accounted for 23% of global GDP, the same as Europe's. It was the largest manufacturer of textiles. Yet by 1830 British cotton textiles dominated the world market and the Indian cotton textile industry was in ruins despite superior quality. How did it happen? Was it by the unregulated free market and free trade as some would insist? In fact, it was by tariffs and protectionism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    @626 Whose point is missed? The point of those who will gain from this or the points that the British people he represents have? Have you any idea what constitutes a business? Are corner shops, post offices, hotels and petrol stations not businesses? Are financial funders who help people get these sort of businesses not businesses? Where will the latter be based and who will benefit from them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    As if India would rely on British rashan. Food Bank, hum...........someone needs to learn the facts. And if someone still doesn’t have eyes opened, I would say that's what colonial and bossy mentality do to ones way of looking. If Britain is all hunky-dory, why would it be what it is now, shouldn’t it be the most devine and noble country in the world? The fact is, it isn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    Improved trade links with countries outside of the Eurozone is important, we need to get involved with some of the worlds fastest growing economies and stop being so dependent on other European countries because once the Euro/Eurozone goes belly up we'll start to see true colours coming through!

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.


    In an interview just ahead of the trip with the Hindustan Times, he ( Cameron)had stressed how there was a "warm welcome" for those who wanted to make a "positive contribution" to the UK. "

    And a publicly funded team of lawyers to act for those who dont

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    Belgium 1/10th UK size, 100x's more trade with CHINA.
    France, something FRENCH in their Fridge, what do they have from UK = NOTHING.
    Germany = FRANCE
    I could go on but of all the 27, soon to be 28 member Nations of the EU - the UK has the LEAST biz presence in INDIA or CHINA.
    UK has job creators from abroad, we have Nothing to Offer world since Thatcher NOW Camer-looney

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    I hope the Indians know this cowboys pledges are worthless...


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