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UK may raise Vodafone tax issue with India

business Updated: Jul 25, 2012 19:10 IST

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The UK is likely to raise Vodafone tax issue and pitch for easier norms for opening branches by foreign banks with commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma in London tomorrow, an official said.

During his meeting with British Minister of Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable, Sharma is expected to raise the issue of easy visa norms for Indian professionals for short duration visits, an official in the Commerce and Industry Ministry said.

"The UK and other countries have been insisting on increased number of licences for establishing bank branches in India," the official said.

At present, there are about 148 branches of three UK-based banks - Standard Chartered, Barclays Bank and HSBC Bank.

"25 Indian bank branches are functioning in UK apart from two subsidiaries and one representative office of IndusInd Bank," the official added.

Following amendment to the Income-Tax Act with retrospective effect, Vodafone may be asked to pay Rs. 20,000 crore tax, interest and penalty for its 2007 acquisition despite wining the tax case in the Supreme Court.

Sharma is in London to attend the Global Investment Conference.

"Trade in services between India and the UK has been lower than that in goods, but has been growing rapidly since 2003," the official added.

The UK is the largest market in Europe for Indian IT services.

Sharma would also seek investments from British companies in infrastructure sector. The government is planning to invest % 1 trillion in the sector during 2012-17.

Meanwhile, an official statement said that during the conference, Sharma will touch upon the global economic architecture and challenges being faced by the world trade.

"He may also highlight the new partnerships that India has formed during the recent time in new markets," it said.

In the bilateral meetings with the British Ministers, he would discuss issues of mutual interest and review the growth of economic ties between India and the UK.

The bilateral trade between the countries have increased to % 16.39 billion in 2011 from % 11.61 billion in 2010 in the previous year.

Indian investment in the UK amount to about % 20 billion, while UK's investment into the country has been % 28 billion.

Indian companies present in Britain include Tata Group, ICICI Bank, United Spirits, Suzlon Energy Ltd and Sahara India. Major UK companies who have presence in India include BP Plc, Cairn UK Holding, Castrol Ltd and Ecom Communications.