British companies are lagging behind international competitors in doing business with India and are missing opportunities as they struggle with a confusing government support system, a report said on Thursday.
The UK Trade and Industry Select Committee, a panel of MPs, said British businesses "have only partial understanding of the Indian economy, despite it becoming the fourth-largest in the world with the second-largest population".
It said that the government's support network for people doing business in India was "characterised by confusion".
The report, written after panel members visited businesses in India, said, "a great deal of good work is being done, but by too many overlapping bodies with ill defined responsibilities and often inadequate resources".
"Viewed from India, the UK is a small country and efforts need to be far more focused to have a real impact," it said.
The all-party group of MPs highlighted how far British firms lag behind rivals from the US, continental Europe and the Far East, despite the UK's history of commerce with India.
Committee Chairman Peter Luff said "levels of interest in the Indian economy are growing year on year but UK investors don't really understand opportunities that India presents."
"UK firms must reassess their perception of the Indian economy as simply a source of low-cost labour and the UK government must do more to help them," he added.
Just four per cent of India's exports go to Britain, compared with 17 per cent to the US, six per cent to China and five per cent to Singapore and Hong Kong, the report said.
While India's imports from China and US account for six per cent, Britain accounts for just three per cent, it added.