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 1098.

    This is a PR stunt, and the BBC appear to be endorsing Dave's ridiculous 'ploy'. India has over 300 million people with degrees, they hate everything the Tories stand for.

    But Cameron must love being driven around Indian cities like Mumbai where the starving-poor rub shoulders with billionaires. To see such mass inequality must give him a lovely warm feeling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1097.

    1033. Northern1
    I like most people in the UK have a strong aversion to the type of mass immigration our country has endured since the 1950s
    You are a minority, not "most people".

  • rate this

    Comment number 1096.

    This is what happens when everything is sold off and the cupboard is bare ... going begging with some 'inducements' of visas and uni places.
    Nothing will be achieved that will benefit the people that need it - our youngesters sold out by a govt turning them into free Poundland fodder, ruined infrastructure, taxpayer dependent banking/service sector. Broken Britain won't be healed by plane sales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1095.

    I nearly fell over the sofa laughing tonight watching the news...David Cameron's quote to the indian people: "Please come over to our amazing Universities...we have as many spaces as you want..." Yeah, you bet we have...at £29,000 (fees alone) for a standard degree i'm not surprised there are spaces! Heaven knows, most UK candidates would struggle to afford, or be reluctant to take on the debt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1094.

    Even if Mr Cameron wants to pull off a success story of his visit, the Great British people wont let him...look at the amount of negativity towards the cause...long live, people of Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1093.

    At least Cameron's trying not only to deal with the mess at home. not always welcome but its a must after L,L,La.. I cant say the name it . he's trying to bring in big buisness to the uk . To many left wing people against him. I don't agree with socialism why should I work so the same money can go to a free loading islamist who wants us dead or a forein criminal they aint equal to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1092.

    Tax-payer money in the form of aid as a bribe so that big business can increase profits by a few more percent. That's not quite enough though, they will also utilise the cheaper labour in India at the expense of UK workers to squeeze out a tiny bit more.

    At least the mega rich benefitting from all of this will put somthing back into the country through by paying their due taxes...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1091.

    Jabdi Something we lost a long, lon time ago. Honesty and respect. We are only members of the G8 and the G 20 and the security council because it suits those that determine this country's foreign and defence policy, and latterly its finance. Try the USA and the special relationship, they say jump and our spineless politicians say "how high"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1090.

    I dunno about opening up .... the last time the Indians "opened up", they got 200 years of imperialism.

    Re; how the Indians treat women.... here in my backyard, a bright young Asian -american women was raped and hacked to pieces in her Yale lab , by an employee, in the middle of the day. Yalies have been mum. In India, public protests have ensured that such crime would invite the death penalty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1089.

    Until the government completes building a new runway at Heathrow or a brand new hub airport in the SE, how on earth can he expect to increase with India? Until the UK's aviation problem is solved, it will be a real struggle for UK to increase trade with the emerging markets.

  • Comment number 1088.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1087.

    We have an ageing population . In twenty years time the workers will be struggling to support the dependants . India will have the opposite problem. We need to be able to invest in the youth of Asia now ,so the dividends can pay for our old age . As UK investments will not be able to provide enough income .
    This would benefit the sub continent at the same time .

  • rate this

    Comment number 1086.

    I've now lost 2 I.T jobs that have been outsourced to onshore Indians working on holiday visa's, getting paid "expenses" (i.e no tax) while being put up in free top quality hotels (Gun wharf quays, where i cant afford to live) they don't pay UK TAX, VAT, Council Tax, anything.. which I have to pay - it's not a fair market - at least Starbucks employ British people.. more than I.B*.M are trying to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1085.

    Corporate globalisation!
    See who gets all the contracts.
    Then political control.
    USA driven agenda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1084.

    Dear Paul Barrett-Brown
    If anybody can leave, they should settle their affairs and try to leave NOW, before the pound falls to about 80 Euro Cents. I'm going back to Germany, saving whatever I can from the ruin of my hard-earned savings.There is no possibility of our corrupt party politicians uniting to form a competent government that might save this failed state - a European Somaliland!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1083.

    @ 1078. Rich:


  • rate this

    Comment number 1082.

    Because he has domestic problems to deal with and this is another diversion tactic like being in in or out of the EU.. that we are in big non event everything this twonk says or does

  • rate this

    Comment number 1081.

    1074.Colin Smith
    well they cant run our economy they castigate and demonise the least able to protect themselves they bully threaten and talk lies just like the great failed scots guards office Ian Duncan Smith yesterday bullying the young geologist graduate he lied on his CV was a failed tory leader and now is destroying the welfare state hes never done anything but marry money thats why

  • rate this

    Comment number 1080.


    Yes, if the UK's not a world power then there aren't many about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1079.

    1066 "Well at least we don't assassinate them like the yanks do to their Presidents!!"

    Indeed, and I wouldn't want to be born with the name Gandhi either, Mahatma,Indira , and Rajiv all assassinated.


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