Tuesday 1 May 2012

India and UK agree to push Trade and Investment

16-April-2012,Shri Anand Sharma, Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister who is in London for the 8th round of India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) Meeting, today held official meetings with his British counterpart Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr. Vince Cable and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. George Osborne in addition to leading the Indian deliberations at the JETCO. Shri Anand Sharma and Dr. Vince Cable addressed the JETCO meeting. The FICCI and CII have led industry delegations of leading businessmen from India to the meeting. The JETCO was established on 13 January 2005 in New Delhi to steer the strategic economic partnership between the two countries following the historic Joint Declaration “India-UK towards a new and dynamic partnership” between Prime Ministers Dr. Manmohan Singh and Tony Blair in September 2004 in London. The JETCO has been conceived as a business driven institutional framework to enhance trade and investment both ways. Shri Anand Sharma and Dr. Vince Cable had led the respective delegations at the 7th JETCO meeting last year in New Delhi. Today’s meeting saw both industry and Government come together for healthy discussions in the Joint Working Groups on the themes of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Education and Skills Development, Investment and Innovation and Logistics. The outcomes of these deliberations were presented by the leaders of the groups in the plenary session. Outcomes of the discussions in the Britain-India Infrastructure Group (BIIG), which has been meeting separately were also taken onboard during the Plenary Session. 

Both sides agreed to concentrate on Education and Skills Development and innovation and healthcare technology, particularly cardiology. In the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector the meeting identified several projects like collaboration between BAE systems and Mahindra & Mahindra, JV between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Rolls Royce and collaboration between Bhushan Power & Steel and CDE Asia Limited for immediate implementation. The Ministers also participated in the release of a Compendium on partnerships in Skills and Education and the launch of a dedicated website of the UK- India Skills Forum. 

During the bilateral meetings with Dr. Vince Cable and George Osborne Shri Anand Sharma highlighted the scope for greater cooperation between the two countries in trade and investment, particularly in critical areas like infrastructure, healthcare, skills development, advanced manufacturing and innovative technologies. Shri Sharma referred to the need for improving the regulatory environment for investments. He pointed out that Indian companies who want to acquire companies in the UK have been facing considerable delay and long legal hassles. He highlighted the concerns of Indian companies who want to visit UK for business meetings and also the long delay in obtaining Visa by Indian nationals. Shri Sharma also flagged the issue of the restrictions imposed on non-EU immigration into the UK which is adversely affecting the operations of Indian companies in the UK. He specifically referred to the UK Border Agency treating Intra Company Transfers of IT experts, professionals and highly skilled workers as prospective immigrants which has affected has badly affected the performance of Indian companies operating in the UK. He also expressed concern that this move may force Indian companies, especially IT companies to relocate to other European capitals. Shri Sharma appreciated the UK Government’s intention to reduce net immigration “to tens of thousands” and clarified that Indian experts coming to the UK leave the country after completion of their contractual obligations with their employers in the UK and therefore they cannot be treated as economic migrants. He highlighted the vast contributions of Indian professionals to the UK economy. He also informed the Chancellor that stoppage of Post Study Work Permits to students has not found favourable to Indian students who are not able to recover the cost of their education in the UK universities and therefore they are now looking for options to study in other countries. He stressed that this development is expected to impact the UK universities where at present over 40,000 Indians students have been studying. 

Dr. Vince Cable emphasised the British Government's desire to further strengthen the ties with India. He highlighted the importance of economic collaboration by protecting and creating jobs through trade and investment for economic recovery. He referred to the Global Investment Conference which the British Government is organizing at Lancaster House one day before the London Olympics started, as an initiative to drive the world economy out of the crisis. It is understood that Prime Minister David Cameron had personally invited Shri Anand Sharma to attend this Investment Conference. Dr. Cable thanked Shri Sharma for agreeing to take part in the conference and the Panel discussion on the theme “Regional Growth, Opportunities, Trade and Foreign Direct Investment”. He also discussed about the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to London during this year at a mutually convenient time as it is will arrive at important decisions to further push the ties. 

Mr. George Osborne told Shri Sharma that for the British Government led by the Conservative party, enhancement of relations with India has been a top priority. He added that this was reiterated by Prime Minister David Cameron on several occasions including last month in New Delhi during his televised address at the India Today Conclave and the launch of ‘Great Britain’ campaign in India. It would be UK Government’s endeavour to create a long lasting partnership with India in all areas of polity for building our two economies stronger. He underlined that UK and India are close allies in the comity of international business and coordinate common issues in fora like WTO, IMF, G-20, etc. Mr. Osborne also briefed Shri Sharma about the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone and the decisions arrived at the recent summits in Brussels for the return of Europe-led global growth and recovery. He also referred to his fruitful meeting with Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister, in New Delhi during the UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue in the beginning of this month where several issues of mutual interest were discussed. He clarified that the UK Government thereafter has taken the decision not to make any change in the Intra Company Transfers for the next two years and that there will not be any increase in the salary cap for such transfers. He acknowledged the contributions of Indian people and praised the performance of Indian companies. He added that UK remains keenly interested in getting highly qualified professionals from India. 

In his address at the JETCO plenary session of over 150 businessmen from both countries at the Royal Society here, Shri Anand Sharma congratulated the Joint Working Groups in identifying concrete projects and tangible results which are critically important for India’s development and inclusive growth. He urged them to focus on implementation of the identified deliverables, building upon the decisions taken during the New Delhi meeting. He expressed satisfaction that trade and investment between the two countries have been growing despite the global economic crisis and serious sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone, He underlined that India is committed to continue to grow in the trajectory of robust growth for the next 25-30 years. He reiterated that the Government of India is committed to create investor friendly environment in the country through the FDI route, implementation of the new National Manufacturing Policy and creation of enabling financial framework for investment outward investment by Indian companies abroad and for foreign companies in India. Shri Sharma invited the British companies to investment in the infrastructure development projects in various parts of India including the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Bangalore-Chennai corridor.

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