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150-member British business delegation in India

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 21:31 IST
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The arrival of the 150-member strong business delegation on Monday from the United Kingdom is coinciding with two other events: The visits of Secretary of State Alistair Darling and Chancellor Gordon Brown - both of whom are visiting India for the first time.

Darling (tipped as the next Chancellor of Exchequer) arrived in New Delhi on Monday, while the visit of Brown (positioned as a Prime Ministerial candidate) is scheduled mid-week.

"It is a hat trick of sorts and the emergence of such a set of coincidences does bode well, as many wonderful things happen when the governments and business delegates of two countries sit together", said Lord Karan Bilimoria, the UK Chairman of the Indo British Partnership Network (IBPN).

On the agenda is the CII's annual partnership summit, while delegates are also scheduled to take part in the annual Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETC) meeting - apart from participating in this year's first biannual meeting of the Indo-British Partnership. This conclave will be co-chaired by Sunil Mittal, Chief Executive of Bharti Enterprises.

India represents just about one per cent of Britain's total trade but - at a juncture when India is booming and opportunities are emerging every day - Britain has become rather wary of the risks of missing the "last train" in India, said Lord Bilimoria.

Awareness about business opportunities between the two countries, he said, was escalating - pointing to the fact that the British Gas had already pumped in one billion pounds in India, while the company had set aside another two billion of investments.

According to Lord Bilimoria, greater investments can come in - provided the India government takes the required steps to raise FDI limits in various sectors including banking and industry. The retail sector also holds out  good opportunities for FDI inflow, he added.

The delegation includes business leaders such as Richard Lambert, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry; Sir Thomas Harris of Standard Chartered; Sir David Wright of Barclays and Terry Hill of Arup. Beginning their visit from New Delhi, the delegation is scheduled to visit Bangalore on Tuesday - rounding off their three-day visit at the Indo-British Partnership meet at Mumbai on Wednesday.

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