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 698.

    It seems most small minds on here think DC's trip is not worthwhile and is just a "jolie" or for a miriad of prejudicial reasons. Perhaps they think the same for all the business people who are accompanying him; that it is a waste of time for them being there also? This is exactly what is needed instead of just relying on selling stuff to the EU which is slowly going down the pan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    May be Dave should do what he's been elected to do and promised, instead of courting favour with Indians who are more than happy to do business with the French.

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    @682 ukblahblahblacksheep. Usual rubbish. The history of free-market capitalism has produced the biggest increases in wealth and standards of living for ALL people - richest and poorest, unless you'd like to go back to 17th century living. Meanwhile, tell me which socialist economy did anything other than impoverish the population? China embraced capitalism post-Mao and look where it is now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    its easy for brits to comment on poverty of india but when i try to explain the causes it is moderated out.they think they are generous by donating petty amount of money to india in return of vast poverty they left behind after looting our country.they don't appreciate, i think even can't understand everything they got free from state comes mainly from money they looted from here anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    I wonder how may of those saying what a lousy place the UK is and what a wonderful place India is are actually commentating from India?

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    684. slipperyfire

    "How else will the UK compete in today's world? By kicking the ball to each other and singing island songs?"

    Makes you wonder why Richard Scudamore - the guy from the Premier League - is with the party, doesn't it....!

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    I work in the web industry and India is very good for us. We get paid to rebuild websites that have been developed by companies over there and that don't work properly. Customers think going to India is cheap, but the web skills are so poor they end up paying to have a second website done because the Indian one has to be scrapped!

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    The shadow of the past and the light at the end of a tunnel can only be worth it, if intentions are pure. This is a very testing time for Britain and will be very much telling one in the days and years to come. If Mr. Cameron can lead well, will be able to build stronger bridge not only in commercial exchanges but also with social harmony; only then both countries can move on from the dark past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    Interesting to observe how the former world Empire is becoming a colony of it's former colonies. Citizens suspect something is seriously wrong, but are told to relax and enjoy "globalization" and "multiculturalism". One day they wake up so see only Chinese and Indian students in Oxford, ten times more mosques than churches in London and native English in reservations...

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    My nan always says; 'Never trust a Politician that can't bat properly.' Taking guard outside leg stump, stepping away from the pitch of the ball, bat following through across the body. Poor technique - do not trust. My nan has never been wrong. Her name is Chris Gayle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    The problem is that Dave's idea of good business is that the rich should get even more while the poor live off crumbs. We are a very wealthy country yet Dave's policies have been all about taking from the poor and giving to the rich. So, don't expect much from his latest jaunt. Unless you're rich, of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    Presumably Indian businessmen will not notice that post-2017 the potential market size might drop from 500 million to 60 million!

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    @111 I'm sure the BBC reported a month or two ago that aid to India would be curtailed to almost nothing over the next decade? Now you're saying that this morning it reported that it was going to double?Hypocritical standards or bad memory? What's going on? They clearly don't need financial aid but need to fix corruption and negligence within India. What is it about India that creates sycophants?

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    David doesn’t seem to know whether he wants to be in a boy band or to flap about trying to play cricket in India

    The most important thing is he is on the front page of the BBC web site and it doesn’t involve politics which is not his strong point

    Come to think of it he doesn’t have a strong point

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    Irrespective of whether India is the right country to be seeking trading links with or not, the UK needs to do something. The naivety of contributors who think the PM "should be sorting the UK out first" is astonishing...that's exactly what he's trying to do! How else will the UK compete in today's world? By kicking the ball to each other and singing island songs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    The only alliance Britain needs is with Russia. Historically, we have been allies and if Britain ever wants to be independent again, this is the way forward building energy contracts. The US and EU are not Britain's friends and that way lies decline. Neither can we afford the Aid to India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    #671. Bastiat

    We...who is this We Bastiat? You going to share out the rewards to everyone in society? Of course you aren't.... you want free-market Capitalism and that benefits no-one in the long run but the the rich in global corporations.

    Be honest...

    Stop talking about 'Freedom' because the 'Freedom' you want is the freedom for one person to benefit at the expense of another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    207 - Aduphanel
    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 -

    You're 100% spot on. My company (global multinational) has been outsourcing IT people in droves. The management responsible line their pockets with promotions and big bonuses for doing it. Utterly sickening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    Please issue some work and study Visa for poor Indians, for leadership training! Only Sikhs and Hindus get reservation for higher Education and Government job In India!
    Please help the poor and bright students of India? The underprivileged also need a Western Education to stand up for Social justice and Civil Rights in India! Please give them a chance for leadership training!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    as an indian, i know 21st century belongs to india and china as they regain their status of power centres of world as they were for known period of history. you enjoy bashing poverty of india which too is caused due looting of treasures of india.i think india should only concentrate on buying weapons from england that too to check the menace of pakistan created by them.


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