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 718.

    I have given up on this country!
    The only way to survive is to rob, steal and plunder!
    These men have led us back to the dark ages!

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    Cameroon is a big liar !!

    There is no option for students to get a work permit visa even after there masters ...and secondly the education level is the same in India if not better ..

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    @704 ukblahblahbull - Go tell it to...lets see...how about the whole population of North Korea, or most of the population of Mao's China, or those queuing up for hours for a loaf of bread in the USSR. Despite avoiding the point with emotive bluster, you cannot get away from the fact that free-market capitalism has producing increased living standards for all. Socialism never ever has.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    Some of the arguements here really defy logic. One minute people are saying how we should remain part of the EU to preserve trade relations, the next they claim trade relations with India is pointless and won't we won't benefit from it.

    Why are the Editors Picks all skewered towards comments which are damning Mr. Cameron for trying to do something in the countries best interests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    I see more taxes to pay for the aid Cameron will bestow on India. However, I do not feel a shred of guilt over colonialism. My ancestors worked in the mines and farms in the UK and never saw any of the colonial loot. Still, we have a dominant leftish political movement which, bereft of ideas, hangs guilt on us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    What's wrong with giving a hitherto unemployed person in a 3rd world country a £5/day wage? That's a lot less than our wage but by comparison that income is huge in his domestic society. He benefits from the high wage and we benefit from the product he makes. The more productive he comes, the higher wage he can command.

    But, let's keep them dependent on our charity instead. Right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    Who is he kidding, start investing in Britain before you start blowing wind abroad. Oh and that rail link, yeah its jobs when its being built with a lot of bungs along the way but as far as an investment, bull.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    The more trade outside the EU the better!
    On what terms will that trade be? How much of the current EU trade do you think we can afford to lose and then replace before the change becomes worthwhile?. Done the sums? Do we really want to make Britain's long term future that of a client state, like Central American countries to the USA? Because that's how it would turn out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    This fuss about Indian students is overblown. They can work here after graduating if they find a job paying at least £20k which is below the average graduate starting salary. Is this not reasonable!

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    It's not as simple as that. Capitalism doesn't have to worship the corporatism of the free market. Instead, regulated capitalism CAN work in the interests of local people - through local micro investment. This is popular in India, I believe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    @658 Spot on!

    Let's take note of what America is starting to do, INSOURCING! They would now much rather train and pay Americans to do the work within at least the IT sector. Why don't we take that stance!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    I would appreciate a healthy relation with both India & UK. I can not stand with any arms deals, new aircraft contracts etc.. with UK at this point of time. India too have the effects of the global financial crisis. UK is clever enough to market and to get some kind of financial boost to the ruined economy.
    l will be pretty happy if the relation is not about just buying arms or UK bonds

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    Certainly an outstanding effort by the PM for the betterment of UK.
    Since the bureaucracy in India is too time consuming along with the fact that now UK needs India more than India needs UK, it will be a tough deal.
    Efforts from all aspects & avenues by the delegation will only work if people back home approve them. Don't think India will be happy to support clearing the mess in Iraq & Afghanistan

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    Peter ""Why on earth are our Govt not focusing on making jobs for the people here in the UK.""

    My naive friend. Why are you so sure that UK's government actually represents interests of UK's indigenous population?

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    #696. suchan104

    Tell it to the poor in Mumbai.... tell it to someone using a food-bank in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    India is a basket case! We invaded them once and now they do business with instead of running competitive tenders and British firms grow complacent selling goods and services to the absent minded India.

    What we should be doing is competiting for business in China! China is soon to be the world's biggest market and that's where British firms should be focusing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    655 dean

    "rather than becoming a strong force within the fast-unifying continent to which we belong"

    We're repeating past mistakes by aligning ourselves with anyone else but our own kind in Europe.

    In the past it was the rush for 'empires by Britain, France etc now it's to save costs by going for the cheap version and condemning our own superbly educated young people to rot on the dole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    What a great strategic move for the UK! In aligning itself so closely with one of the great emerging economies with which it has such strong historic ties, the UK could be the only country in the floundering west to preserve its power and influence in the future. It's time to divorce the US, ditch the EU and create a new special relationship with India!

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    Letting in Foreigners to do UK work makes the UK richer! Out-sourcing UK jobs to India makes the UK richer! Selling off all of British Industry to Foreign Companies makes the UK richer!
    Why do we pander to this completely nieve view of the World. We need to look after number one, atm we're running just to stand still. Source local and Buy British! - if that's even possible nowadays!

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Some comments on here are staggering. How about the corruption in Britain? BAE systems & Saudi deal secrets brushed under the carpet? Many have forgotten what the British Empire took from India. And they they left in a mess which India is still recovering from - it was a rich country before the British went. You remember the history involving the Nazi's but you forget the rest of history?


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