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 1338.

    It really is a bit rich of Cameron to tell the Indians to open up their economy when his government has put so much effort in making it difficult for them to come here as students. In effect punishing genuine applicants because of the activities of those abusing the system. He should get his own house in order first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1337.

    The problem with ´Asian Labour` is that they are used to 7/24 in their homeland.

    They brought those hours into the UK and Europe --it was ´natural´ them.

    -- for us not --but now expect those hours from ´our own´-that is also Globalization.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1336.

    myhammers I love it "risk becoming a irrelevance" Wake up! in the eyes of the real world we are an irrelevance, and this government is continuing to make decent, hard working, honest people totally irelevant. If your wealthy or part of the corrupt elite fine otherwise you don't count.
    Cameron is posturing in attempt to save his skin before 2015 calls time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1335.

    multinational corporations do effectively pull strings - influence and shape our vision, continuing to enjoy the fruits of our labour (bonuses). yes, they are wholly to blame for the financial crises - but they've succeeded in shaping the public opinion that cuts are necessary (excluding the politicians' perks) and that lots of people are on benefits...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1334.

    1311 love

    "So, let Cameron talk to the Indians before they go talk to someone else"

    They seem to have been doing that for a long time already - even Belgium trades more with them than we do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1333.

    I know its asking too much for quick fixes for our economic woes but nearly everything that Cameron and Co. come up with, might, and I stress the word might, slightly improve things, but these projects are way in the future and all after the General Election 2015?

    Its all cut cut now and a carrot (a pretty small one) in the future.

    More outsourced jobs to India isn't any help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1332.

    1331 you want to see what happened in the last riots, you will soon wish for the quiet old England your type laugh at, once the youngsters wake up to the nightmare appraoching. This is no movie, there will be incredible public disturbance without councils, police of NHS to deal with it. You will see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1331.

    1313. Jonnydog
    Better to die on our feet than live on our knees in Europe.
    You've been watching too many war movies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1330.

    #1319 Rotherham

    "Perhaps "Goods" was the wrong word to use in relation to India - "Labour" would be a better one, I suggest."

    -- Eastern Europeans presently solve that UK problem ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1329.

    Supply and demand applies to the labor market, by increasing the supply of workers (for example IT workers) you lower the cost. (wages) This has been successfully used in the USA and the UK to lower wages for IT workers. Unfortunately this also discourages students in these countries from entering IT leading to demands for more imported labor, leading to lower wages Ad infinitum

  • rate this

    Comment number 1328.

    And why would they want to do that? Next thing you know he'll be asking them to send us 'Development Aid'. It is because India closely regulates it business and more important its businessmen and women that they are able to thrive whilst we left to the whims of any old shyster with the right connections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1327.

    and if he swans around his own backyard and ignores the WORLD economy, then where would we end up, i'm sure he knows sod all about being us, but he probably knows more than us how to deal with them, there is not a politician from any party that can fix britain for all of us,.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1326.

    You can not apply domestic principals when trading on an international level.

    It is a natural business principal for the weak to seek out the strong and forge associations to create mutual progressive wealth.

    Whatever has happened in the past can not be undone but from what we have learned we can shape the future.

    I think an alliance with India is far superior to the alternative !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1325.

    Cameron will be selling them the new aircraft carriers.

    He missed out earlier when he stupidly scrapped and melted down the Nimrod MRA4s.

    The Indians must be wondering how this chump got into power.

    They will be seeing how to get the carriers on the cheap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1324.

    Instead of trotting off trying to court the Indians, Cameron should be at home trying to stop the British economy sliding down the drain!


  • rate this

    Comment number 1323.

    Baza The top man yes but not the village idiot!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1322.

    The boot is on the other foot, and the fault lies firmly, and equally with arrogant government and management, and manipulative Communist trade unions which wrecked UK industry 40 years ago. Anyone with even half a brain knew then what the outcome would be, and so it has proved. And still, our leaders want to peddle our corrupt financial institutions as our saviour. Total embarrassment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1321.

    It's no joke. Ofgem warned last year that Britain faces blackouts within 3 years. It is apparent to all (except climate scientists) that winters are getting colder in the UK, which will threaten the fail-safe. To be fair, successive Govts are responsible for this mess.

    What I fail to understand is how our Prime Minister can blithely swan around the world ignoring his backyard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1320.


    The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars and the selfish hide in high places.
    Bryant H. McGill

  • rate this

    Comment number 1319.


    "#1308 Tom

    "India.... like China, is totally reliant on flooding the West with cheap goods"

    -- like what ?

    (honest question)"

    Perhaps "Goods" was the wrong word to use in relation to India - "Labour" would be a better one, I suggest.


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