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 1178.

    Good to hear from the soon to be former prime minister put your CV out abroad lets forget Gordon but Tony did a great job in preparation for his end I will sleep well tonight in the knowledge he has got the message

  • rate this

    Comment number 1177.

    1146.Surely not
    Do you mean 'England' without Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland?. Tell you what, theres a lot of nunpties that keep saying 'England' when they mean the 'UK' or 'Britain'.
    To redress the balance lets hope,in the years ahead, that Scotland strikes a better deal with India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1176.

    It's all very well adding fast track visas for India, which I have no problem with, but how about sorting out the rest of the UKBA first? It's a complete shambles as it is, with visa's that are aimed to be processed in under 20 days routinely taking longer that 6 months, and with a fast track service for those that don't offer obtainable appointments. You can't expand a broken & defunct 'service'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1175.

    How fast do you reckon they'll let the UK business in?? Cameron should try helping this country get off it's knees to these other countries and play them all at their own game, it's the only way this country will ever get ahead now. Look after us first,then worry about the others. Maybe one day the politicians will actually do something to benefit us all!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1174.

    Seriously now there are many areas where expertise could be shared and Britain could do well in India and investing in Indian businesses it all leads to an invisible import of money into the country.
    There are opportunities for British business to expand into India also.

  • Comment number 1173.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1172.

    1155. Doctor Bob
    "What on earth can British firms sell to India"

    Dave whilst in India to greet
    was aware,you are what you eat.
    Our burger Veggie looked fine,its made out of swine
    Causing grunting & trotters for feet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1171.

    No doubt....? Blind faith, that, LUFC.

    #1147 Eton Mess
    Wish I could disagree

    Perhaps Dave should be giving more thought to what we should be doing at home - what help govt can give to UK businesses in fields such as engineering and tech.
    Coupled with some infrastructure projects that ought to give us a better return than our colossal subsidisation of hedgiefraudsters...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1170.


    Actually, the reduction in sterling value was started under New Liebour, due to a a tripling of housesprices since 1997, 0.5% interest rates and unprecedented QE, in an attempt to hide the reckless borrowing under them. I'd like more Austerity to punish the feckless, make houses affordable again, and make people buy what they can afford rather than buying everything on credit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1169.

    1161. Jabdi
    1145. Paul Barrett-Brown
    Not to mention this country has world leading research institutions, that are the envy of the world.

    Fair comment Jabdi - such a pity our research institutions seem to receive less and less funding every year - I wonder for how long they will continue to be 'world class'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1168.

    Are people actually going to be positive for a change at the good news that we have a Prime Minister going out there for genuine UK businesses, and not cozying up to oil tyrants for the release of murderers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1167.


    "India knows that U.K. is excellent in design and U.K. I hope should know that India is a very cost efficient manufacturing destination..."
    India is a cheap place to manufacture goods because it does not have to jump through all the legislative hoops (Health & Safety, Minimum wages, pension provisions, etc.) that British manufacturers do but what about the quality of the goods?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1166.

    It is looking like another free trip for his rich mate's.

    Lot's of Champagne

  • rate this

    Comment number 1165.

    If anyone will gain from this it will be India at the expense of our jobs.. And just how much real money will the British Tax payer have to pay for this privilege of our jobs diminishing in a world market

  • rate this

    Comment number 1164.

    We're already outsourcing enough jobs for God's sake. We don't want to make it even easier for British workers to be scrapped. Taken to it's logical conclusion why don't we simply outsource all those execs on millions a year...or even the government?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1163.

    Wow... A former colonial power coming to beg it's former colony.... Clear indication of power changing hands.

    Ride on India!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1162.

    .... The jobs have been going to India at a fast rate already and that rate is increasing.
    We are not going to compete with India on cost. We can and do compete on quality and no doubt Cameron will succeed in helping to sell top end items and services. The benefits are there to be had for those with skills and good values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1161.

    1145. Paul Barrett-Brown

    Not to mention this country has world leading research institutions, that are the envy of the world.

  • Comment number 1160.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1159.

    1151. Abdul Malik Niazi said:-

    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.

    A reasonable argument sir - but you have included something in your statement that will prevent it from benefiting the UK - the name David Cameron.


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