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 1158.

    @ 1150. squirrel: I am a citizen, I see what Cameron is trying to do and if he gets it right it will very much be in my interest. So, I , and many like me feel the Government is finally starting to do what's right for England. If we don't do this, in a few years there won't be an England. I don't think you're a right wing nasty, I simply don't think you have much of an idea what needs doing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1157.

    We will be doomed by looting our benefit system..... soon as long as our borders are open to EU ....more worse than a third world country .....see the impact by next year January...we shall reap what we sow.....our deeds during colonial period .....we need to open our business to India ,brazil and china.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 1156.

    Well whatever he does he needs to do it fast. The value of the pound is falling against the Euro and the Dollar, reflecting a shifting consensus in the market's opinion of his handling of our economy.

    Austerity is clearly failing to deliver and if the AAA rating goes there will be nowhere left to hide politically.

    Time's nearly up Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1155.

    What on earth can British firms sell to India?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1154.

    What can the UK give India? Plenty- Engineering expertise. Extremely invaluable in India right now (and no that doesn't mean we dump once we get better, there's just so much more to this). Look at what Germany is doing in India, especially driven by its fear of losing (rightfully) losing its IP in China.

    What can India give UK? Plenty- cheap labour, a huge market and a bulwark against China.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1153.

    @626 - "..not workers to take our jobs.". There are a great many workers in many industries (especially IT and finance) that know that it is no longer necessary for Indian workers to come here to take jobs. The jobs have been going to India at a fast rate already and that rate is increasing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1152.

    If only we can attract more Indians here, we can one day have the public health, hygiene and equality enjoyed by all in India.. The Thames has nothing on the Ganges and I would love to bathe in it. The UK isn't overcrowded at all, and our rail, roads and hospitals can easily cope. Also, houses are very cheap in the UK due to such a low population and many vacant houses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1151.

    It is a very wise step taken by Prime Minister David Cameron to explore business opportunities world wide, as the world is becoming interdependent thanks to globalisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1150.

    1139.Dagobert Rumdoch
    You are so 19th century. Do you really expect the modern world to slow down for you?
    No mate, I'd expect my own Government to listen and the rest of the world to respect our citizens wishes. Not all of us are Drooling Globalists, lost on some 'infinite growth' lie. We're not the Right Wing Nasties from the last Century, some of us would just like our own Country-Thank You!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1149.

    If the UK stopped Foreign Aid tomorrow..who would suffer?
    OK.Granted,we would see redundancies..Most of them in the Arms and Ammunition Supply Industry.
    The only way a poor country can buy the product is to make it easy for them to buy the product.
    Is there any real difference between Foreign Aid or State Benefits?
    If the product is something you cannot afford...You have to help them buy it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1148.

    It is essential for Britain to engage with India and other emerging 'super' economies so anything that can be done should be done, regardless of your political colours. This country must look elsewhere for economic growth. It looks increasingly likely that the Euro countries are going to forge even closer links and with the UK not being involved in that process then we must look further afield.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1147.

    Just had a horrible thought. Tories sell everything right.....the Chinese government even own part of our water. Maybe he's in India to sell our NHS? They're trying to sell it, they've pretty much admitted it, but to who we don't know...
    If it's not the NHS then maybe our councils? What have we got left that Thatcher and major didn't sell...? Not much apart from the NHS...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1146.

    He's begging.

    He's begging because India certainly doesn't need England, but as England soon won't have a pot to piss in, this banksters moll and some other lackies are running around attempting to negotiate from a position of weakness.


  • rate this

    Comment number 1145.

    Please note:- Only two reasons why foreign students want to study in Britain:-

    A)We are willing to offer them places and
    B) We speak English

    Like it or not, thanks to Empire and the Settlement of N. America, English has become the de facto language of science, technology and much else. Foreign unies. are now offering sci/tech degs taught in English, soon we will lose the 'language' advantage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1144.

    Cameron seems more desperate by the day, where next? He will not move our economy in India. He has insulted them more than once during his time in office and has lost millions for our Universities through his policies. Cameron's priority should be to get the banks moving here lending to business and those businesses will show you how to get trade in India and the rest of the BRIC countries

  • rate this

    Comment number 1143.

    1131.The Rockabilly Red

    No, we have much to offer in terms of skills and attitude, and by and large are not cheap labour. As Prithvi says, we need to keep augmenting our skills. We are a by and large a good place to invest Stop pretending we are all hopeless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1142.

    Also, yes we suffer from corruption, but that doesn't mean we as a culture and nation condone it. If you don't want to do business with India but have no issues in doing so with China, there's something deeply flawed in your worldview as a nation.

    I don't see UK playing a big part in the things to come, if this petty xenophobia coupled with insecurity is the sign of things of how things are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1141.


    When your poor its not spirit that forces you to work for 10p an hour its the burning starvation in your gut.! As for the dole i suggest you pop down to your local dole office and give them your thoughts personally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1140.

    It would be a big mistake for any country to invest in the UK right now the EU referendum looming
    I don't think so. Cameron is in India as a representative of the EU, not just the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1139.

    @ 1133. squirrel:

    You are so 19th century. Do you really expect the modern world to slow down for you?


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