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London mayor to visit India to boost trade

Ken Livingstone will visit India some time in March to give a boost to bilateral trade and to invite Indian firms to invest in the British capital.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 12:03 IST

London Mayor Ken Livingstone will visit India some time in March to give a boost to bilateral trade and to invite Indian companies to invest in the British capital.

Though his detailed tour programme is yet to be finalised, he will visit Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Livingstone will tour the Bombay Stock Exchange and while in Hyderabad, he will call on the chairman of the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority and the Governor and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

The meeting with the insurance regulator will be significant as British companies were keen to enter India's insurance market but are seeking further liberalisation of the sector.

"The visit signifies the growing trade relations between Britain and India," Andrew Dinsley, first secretary (trade and investment) at the British Trade Office in Bangalore said.

Dinsley, who was here recently to attend the "Animation India 2006" meet, said British officials had been making more visits to China a few years ago but now the focus was on India.

"Bilateral trade is growing and the level of business is going up," he said.

According to Dinsley, the London mayor was interested in the two-way flow of investment. "You have HSBC and other British investors in India while Indian companies like Infotech have set up their operations in Britain."

Livingstone will be the second mayor of London to visit Hyderabad in three years. In September 2003, then mayor Alderman Gavyn Arthur had visited Hyderabad.

Dinsley pointed out that 38 new projects with investment from Indian companies had recently started in Britain. "India is the eighth largest investor in the UK and more and more companies are looking to invest there," he said.

"There are 500 registered Indian companies in the UK and 400 of them are in the IT sector alone. Indians feel at home while doing business in the UK. They enjoy doing business there. This is because of language and cultural connections."

Noting that both countries had knowledge-based economies, Dinsley said 60 percent of Indian companies wanting to go to Europe first come to Britain.

"This is a 21st century relationship. Not just two-way trade but also to reach out to other markets. New business modules are being developed. Two British companies recently came together to set up another company in Bangalore to cater to the US market," he said.

While Bangalore has the presence of 70 companies from Britain, an equal number of companies from that southern city have their operations in Britain.

With the presence of only 10 British companies in Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh capital is behind Bangalore.

"We hope to see more growth and I am impressed by the chief minister's recent statement that he wants Hyderabad to become number one in IT and other sectors," Dinsley said.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 12:03 IST