'UK firms to deepen ties with India'
Britain's Chancellor Gordon Brown calls upon UK companies to forge closer links with India and China.india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 17:26 IST
Britain's Chancellor Gordon Brown calls upon UK companies to forge closer links with India and China.
Chancellor Gordon Brown, widely tipped to be Britain's next prime minister, has called upon British companies to forge closer links with India and China.
Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry's Interactive Conference in London, Brown said that small and medium-sized firms in particular should be looking to do more business with firms in India and China, and described as "ridiculous" that the two countries were responsible for only five percent of British trade.
He said he would be leading a delegation of politicians and businessmen to India early next year to try to drum up more trade.
Over the next 15 years, up to half the world's future growth would come from China and India alone, he said, while the G7's share will be down to just a third.
Brown also warned that the challenge of emerging economies such as China and India required a campaign to ensure British workers had the skills to compete. He said: "As a result of the advent of Asia, there has been an astonishing 400 per cent increase in the numbers of unskilled workers, most of them offering their labour at five per cent of the cost of Britain's.
"For today's six million British adults without basic skills there are now jobs for only three million of them, and by 2020 there will probably be jobs for only half a million. So, either we will have to bear the social security costs or they will have to gain new skills.
"There is a real question about what is the destiny of Britain and what we want our destiny to be in a world where globalisation means that you can buy and service almost anything from almost anywhere, and that we succeed now, not by protecting our markets, but only if we out-innovate, out-think and out-perform our competitors."