British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a three-day visit to India on her first official trip outside Europe after coming to power in July. She will visit both Delhi and Bengaluru.
India and UK have robust trade and investment partnership. Bilateral trade in goods stood at US$ 14 billion in 2015-16. India and the United Kingdom are the third-largest investors in each others countries.
“One of our most important and closest friends has to be India -- a leading power in the world, with whom we share so much history, culture and so may values, and which is led by a Prime Minister who is undertaking a far-reaching programme of reform,” May had said before flying to New Delhi.
Here are five things you need to know about the visit
India is concerned about restrictions on immigration and recent changes to visa rules across categories. The scrapping of post-study work provision is cited as the main reason for halving of Indian students studying in UK from 40,000 to 20000 in the past five years. The recent changes to immigration rules – including higher salary thresholds – will affect Indian professionals and IT companies, particularly those using the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa.
Indian IT workers account for nearly 90% of UK visas granted under the ICT route. Changes related to the Tier 2 visa category -- increasing the general salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions; increasing the ICT salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000 and closing the ICT skills transfer sub-category.
Greater focus on SME sector
What May will be doing in Bengaluru on Tuesday is an interesting change from what her predecessors did when they visited the southern city. May is not focusing on Indian IT firms, instead she is interacting with business leaders in the small and medium sectors. The visiting PM will visit Dynamatics Technologies, an aerospace and hydraulic pumps manufacturer that has three factories in the UK. The fact that this firm generates jobs in the UK needs to be stressed. In her own words, May is accompanied by “a range of top British businesses, including some of our brightest small and medium enterprises”.
Preparing ground for life after post-Brexit
There won’t be any talks for a Free Trade Agreement before the Brexit, (Britain leaving European Union) process gets over. But groundwork for business ties post Brexit is on the agenda. UK was a gateway for Indian firms for all of Europe. That will now depend on how UK negotiates its trade ties with other countries, which would be a lengthy process. There are 800 Indian businesses in UK.
India’s pharmaceutical industry, might struggle to make large investments in the UK after Brexit. So is the case with car maker Jaguar-Land Rover owned by Tata that will probably stare at a steeper duty for importing their vehicles to other countries.
Tech summit to boost cooperation in science and technology
PM Modi along with May will inaugurate India-UK technology summit on November 7. Under the umbrella of India-UK Technology Summit, four other summits are being organised:
1) India-UK Higher Education Summit
2) India - UK Innovation & Entrepreneurship Summit
3) India - UK Design Summit
4) India - UK Intellectual Property Rights Summit. These meets are expected to chart a new course in the ties in the filed of science and technology.
Defence and security ties
India, a top importer of defence equipment in the world, is an important customer of Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers. UK would is keen on taking part in the make in India flagship in the defence sector.