As Britain seeks to recover from recession, Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday made a pitch to help build the Mumbai-Bangalore industrial corridor generating investment projects worth up to $25 billion.
“With me I’ve got architects, planners and finance experts who can work out the complete solution,” said Cameron, who is leading a more than 100-strong delegation of British business leaders to India on a three-day visit.
At the Hindustan Unilever office in Powai, the first of his two engagements in the city, Cameron said British companies could help India develop new cities and districts along the 1,000-km corridor that would link the financial capital of Mumbai with the IT hub of Bangalore.
Britain is the largest European investor in India, and more than half of Indian businesses in Europe are located in Britain. In a move to attract Indian businessmen, Cameron, who is on his second visit to India as prime minister, said the country would introduce same-day visas for investors.
“I announce that we are going to introduce for businesses a same-day visa service because we want you to come to our country quickly, to invest in our country and support our country,” said Cameron, addressing business leaders at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba, his second engagement for the day.
Pointing out that the India-UK business relationship was already strong, Cameron spoke of investing in education, healthcare and rewriting rules on high level technology transfer.
“This relationship focuses on the future rather than on the past. India is planning 40 million more places in universities and we will help you provide them.
"India is also planning to double its spending on health as share of GDP ... we want to help you in manufacturing drugs, setting up hospitals and provide services,” said Cameron.
With 40,000 Indian students in UK, Cameron also said that there would be no curbs on those who want to study in the country as well as stay on and work in graduate –level employment.
With trade with India set to double to around Rs.1.67 trillion by 2015, Cameron said he hoped for a reduction in trade barriers to create better opportunities for British companies.
“Britain is looking to take down the [trade] barriers...we want the Indian government to continue to open up trade barriers and make it easier to do business here...
"We have to make sure that just as we welcome Indian investments into Britain, it is easier for British companies like banking, retail etc to invest in this vibrant and fast growing economy," he said.