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Indo-UK ties to focus on smart cities, defence

business Updated: Nov 15, 2015 23:48 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Modi in UK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his British counterpart David Cameron at Chequers in Buckinghamshire.(REUTERS)

Smart cities and defence are among six focus areas identified by the UK-India CEO Forum for collaboration and investment at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart David Cameron.

A reconstituted India-UK CEOs Forum, identified six overarching themes — smart cities and the digital economy, healthcare, education and skills, engineering, defence and security, and financial and professional services — as important areas of collaboration to take forward.

“We are confidently, consistently and ceaselessly working to integrate our economy with the world,” Modi told the gathering at 11 Downing Street, next door to Cameron’s office in London.

During the meeting, Cameron encouraged the company chairs and chief executives to identify the best ways to build new trade partnerships and investment opportunities between the two nations.

He has appointed 20 of the UK’s top business leaders to the forum, including Standard Life chairman Gerry Grimstone who will co-chair the group along with Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry from the Indian side.

“(The) meeting was a great opportunity to celebrate the success of the UK-India commercial relationshipm” said Grimstone whose UK team included leading British company representatives such as Vodafone chief executive Vitorio Calao, BAE CEO Ian King and Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East.

“India is the third-largest investor in the UK, and the UK is the largest G20 investor in India. This forum will forge deeper collaboration in areas where there is scope to take relationship to the next levels”.

“The common ask of the industry in both countries is a business environment characterised by simplicity in structures and processes, clarity and transparency in decision-making, and uniformity and consistency in the treatment of corporates and people across borders. The new UK-India CEO forum provides a powerful foundation,” said Mistry, who was joined by the likes of Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, Tata Consultancy Services CEO and MD N Chandrasekaran and Bharat Forge chairman Baba Kalyani.

The UK is the largest G20 investor in India, with 535 UK businesses employing 691,000 people across the country.

In the UK, around 800 Indian businesses employ 110,000 people.