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UK seeks openness by the govt to Vodafone

india Updated: Jan 16, 2007 20:13 IST

The UK on Tuesday assured complete government neutrality on Tata Steel's bid to acquire Corus and sought similar treatment for British telecom firm Vodafone in its bid to acquire mobile venture Hutchison-Essar.

"Any Indian company can come and buy any business in UK. We need to make sure it becomes a two-way process," UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling said after meeting Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath.

Darling had on Monday said investment climate in Britain was very liberal and India too must provide a level playing field for British companies operating in the country.

His comments came days after EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson talked to Commerce Minister Kamal Nath on the issue.

Darling, who was speaking after a meeting of India-UK Joint Economic Trade Committee, sought greater openness by India to foreign investments in financial and legal services, accountancy, agri business and retail.

Bilateral relations would be driven by trade, he added.

Earlier, speaking at the interaction after the meeting, Nath said reforms in the financial sector have started.

"In the next session of Parliament a new legislation on banking would be introduced," he said.

Nath said FDI regime in India compared favourably with other countries of East Asia. "We have gone far (in liberalising FDI) and will continue the process," he said.

In their meeting, Darling and Nath also discussed the issues surrounding World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"The Doha round of talks must conclude with an ambitious pro-development agreement. We hope to see some movement as there is too much involvement in it," Darling said.