Prime Minister David Cameron will meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on Thursday in their first official meeting in India to boost Indo-UK trade ties in the backdrop of a steep slump on the British side of the equation.
Cameron is leading a 90-member trade delegation comprising ministers, CEOs, cultural figures and sports stars. Key figures include UK Finance Minister George Osborne, Business Secretary Vince Cable, BAE Chairman Richard L Olver.
The meeting aims to rejuvenate sagging trade ties which got a boost on Wednesday with the sealing of a deal for Hawks — advanced jet trainers — to India. British exports dropped to Rs 21,009 crore in 2009 from Rs 29,872 crore in 2008 . However, Britain is India’s third-largest source of foreign direct investment.
Jo Johnson, MP and trade delegation member told HT that “the size of the delegation and the fact that the visit is taking place so soon in the tenure of the new government shows that India is at the top of the British government’s trade agenda”.
Key priorities for the delegation include opening up of the Indian legal market, securing the deregulation of multi-brand FDI in retail and securing greater British involvement in the Indian banking sector. UK supermarket giant Tesco is poised to enter the Indian market and has a significant presence in Bangalore through its offshore centre for software and back-office services. Numerous UK law firms have also shown interest in developing an Indian presence, although there are regulatory hurdles blocking their way.
British banks earned Rs 2,293 crore from financial services in India in 2007.