Making it easier for companies to Access India
A senior Indian diplomat weighs up Access India, an initiative by the High Commission of India in London to facilitate the smooth entry of UK companies in the Indian market. Multinational companies, large corporates and big industrial houses have been at the forefront of investment and trade between India and the UK. Today, India is the fourth-largest investor in the UK with Indian companies having a turnover of over £45 billion and the UK is the second largest G-20 investor in India. The majority of these investments have been through big business. However, if you look at the economic structure of both UK and India, majority of businesses, especially in the UK, are in the SME sector, many of whom do not have any international exposure. These SMEs form the backbone of the UK economy and boast of high-quality products, processes and technology. Prime Minister Modi launched the Make in India programme in which countries across the world have been encouraged to invest in India. Under this programme and to target the SME sector in the UK, the High Commission of India launched the Access India Programme to target high potential UK SME companies and help them in establishing themselves in India. In this regard, the High Commission of India has partnered a large number of entities including legal firms, accounting firms, consulting firms and other industry bodies. Through a competitive bidding, the High Commission of India also appointed UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) as a knowledge partner for the programme to work with the other programme partners to implement this project. The Access India programme not only offers a wide range of business support services under a single platform but also provides mentoring support to make entry of SMEs in India strong and effective. The services include strategy consulting, M&A, operational market entry support, tax & legal support, financial services, project financing, location services, technology collaboration, facilitation of approvals from central & state agencies and access to government agencies. Market entry of the selected companies shall be closely supervised to ensure success. The main strategy is to de-risk as much as possible the entry strategy of these companies in India. Under the programme, High Commission undertook a regional outreach campaign in different parts of the UK including London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leicester, Warwick, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Staffordshire and Sheffield to publicise the initiative. In addition to the programme launch, the High Commission organised sector-specific events to attract companies in sectors like defence, healthcare and Fintech. Through a very comprehensive analysis and detailed discussions with the companies, in the first cohort, the High Commission has shortlisted 24 potential companies that are at an advanced stage of Market Entry with a clear intent for localisation in India. Through this programme, the High Commission intends to provide a red-carpet entry to small and medium sized businesses in the UK who look at India not only as a potential market but a place from where they could export to the rest of the world. India and the UK share certain complementarities, especially in the field of technology, which would be utilised to define a new global partnership. This was evident during the visit of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to the UK recently whereby the two countries agreed on a Tech Alliance. I am hopeful that these steps will not only increase trade and investment between our two countries but also forge new collaborations equipped to handle the challenges of an ever-changing socioeconomic milieu. Dinesh K. Patnaik is former Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK and now Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).