Echoing comments by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit here last November, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said on Wednesday a vote on June 23 for Britain to exit the EU will create “uncertainty” for Indian companies.
Anuj Chande of London-based consultants Grant Thornton told Hindustan Times the issue of “Brexit” is a significant one for a number of the 800 Indian companies in the UK because “many have based themselves here as a gateway to Europe”.
He added: “If UK leaves the EU, a number will be impacted from a business point of view, given the trade, labour mobility and market access issues. It is too early to say whether some will relocate but it’s something to watch out for.”
Ficci secretary general A Didar Singh said in a Brexit vote would possibly have an adverse impact on investment and movement of Indian professionals to Britain.
“The UK is a valued economic partner for India and we firmly believe that leaving the EU would create considerable uncertainty for Indian businesses engaged with UK and would possibly have an adverse impact on investment and movement of professionals to the UK,” he said.
“Britain is considered an entry point and a gateway for the European Union by many Indian companies...While deciding on membership of the EU is a sovereign matter for Britain and its people, Indian industry is of the view that foreign businesses cannot remain isolated from such decisions.”
During a joint news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron in November, Modi had highlighted the benefits to India of Britain’s presence in the EU.
“As far as India is concerned, if there is an entry point for us to the European Union that is the UK, that is Great Britain,” he had said.
As debates continue among business leaders and organisations in Britain, several leaders of Indian and Commonwealth background wrote an open letter to Cameron to support Brexit and call for the UK to take “back its autonomy in the fields of migration and commerce”.
Pressure continued on the pound on fears of a Brexit vote, as top British companies such as BT and Vodafone said they favoured Britain remaining in the EU in a letter to Cameron.
Brexit campaigners, however, pointed out two-thirds of the top 100 FTSE companies did not sign the support letter.