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Indo-UK investment meet in June

Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said the aim was to double bilateral trade, reports Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 20:01 IST

Kamal Nath announced trade-boosting Indo-UK Investment Summit in London in June.

Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said that India and the UK should aim at doubling the level of bilateral trade as well as investment within the next three years. In order to enhance trade, the first UK-India Investment Summit will be held in London, most likely in June.

Nath, who is visiting London, attended the second Indo-UK Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting on Tuesday along with his British counterpart Alan Johnson. Both ministers pointed out that the present level of two-way trade was dismal - at around US $7 billion last year (2004-2005) which did not reflect the existing trade potential. They decided to step up efforts to double the volume using JETCO as a platform.

Johnson pointed out that India accounted for only 1 per cent of UK's global trade, despite having a sixth of the world's population.

Speaking at the meeting, Nath said, "JETCO, which was established in September 2004 by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Tony Blair, fulfils a long felt need for a structured platform for policy engagement as well as practical action. It is a unique platform, being neither purely government-to -government nor purely business-to-business, but a combination of both."

On foreign direct investment (FDI), Nath said that Britain's share was only $ 2 billion out of the total $ 40 billion FDI received by India globally in the last 15 years. "What we should look for is $2 billion annually of FDI inflows from UK into India, not $2 billion cumulatively," he said.

Referring to the work done by the four working groups set up by JETCO and an expert group, Nath welcomed the new areas now being proposed to enhance Indo-UK cooperation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs); creative industries (including films and media) and bio-technology as all these were very important and relevant to India.

He also called for greater cooperation between the two countries on commercial crime busting as joint action as this would not only boost investor's confidence but also give comfort to SMEs who did not have the resources to deal with such issues at their own levels.

During the meeting Nath also informed that expert group discussions on legal services had been initiated and a proposal was in place for a similar expert group on accountancy. The group on legal services have prepared position papers, which would now form the basis of dialogue with the various stakeholders, he said.

Sunil Mittal, chair of Indo-British Partnership (IBP), reported on the progress of IBP at the meeting, while the reports on the progress of JETCO working groups were presented by the stakeholders on accountancy, agribusiness, creative industries, healthcare, hi-tech clusters, Intellectual Property Rights, investment summit, legal services and PPP/infrastructure & sports and leisure infrastructure.

The meeting was attended by a large business delegation from India which included the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Commerce & Industry (FICCI). On the UK side John Sunderland, President of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) and Martin Harman of the Indo-British Partnership (IBP) along with several leading representatives of British trade and industry participated from the UK.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 20:01 IST