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Partnering with India can give the UK a global competitive edge
During a recent visit to the UK, India's Commerce & Industry Minister sketched out a roadmap to take bilateral ties to the next level.
There is a strong desire in India to see its relationship with the UK blossom and work towards a better future, not necessarily only for trade and investment but for the people of both the countries.
I hope that all the various levels of engagement will help us come up with a roadmap to take this partnership to the next level. Prime Minister Modi had coined a very beautiful phrase, the living bridge, in reference to all the Indians who live in the UK and contribute in the true spirit of global citizens, seeking a better future for both countries.
We just had the first-ever India Day celebration, hosted by the Lord Mayor of London and the UK government's Department for International Trade (DIT), which holds great promise. London is truly a city which is full of life, full of opportunities and wonderful people. It is the financial capital that is recognised the world over for its robust regulatory frameworks and also the London Stock Exchange - one of the world's oldest exchanges where Indian companies benefit significantly, in partnership with local service providers, to help them raise capital and grow their businesses. I look forward to great engagement between the London Stock Exchange and India's fintech sector in the years to come.
We are two great democracies, with very deep historical ties. But more importantly, with an aspirational India looking for a better quality of life for 1.3 billion Indians, these are two economies which can partner with each other and support the imperatives of each other. British business and investment can help India in its growing need for services, and good Indian skilled manpower and talent can help British business become more competitive.
I think there can be no better situation than this win-win partnership, which has great synergies and complementarities, which can help us further take this partnership to much bigger levels. And, the recently-concluded UK-India Week will help both UK business and Indian business understand each other, network with each other, build up partnerships and look at the growing opportunities both sides of the oceans.
Trade and business also include services and I have been engaging with the British government to see how we can package the advantages that businesses on both sides bring to the table. The aim is to bring about a situation where Indian talent can work with UK businesses and actually start serving the rest of the world. I think the cost competitiveness that we can create out of this partnership would be very impactful when it comes to engaging with the rest of the world. And, just as Prime Minister Modi said, it is time we create the foundation of setting higher ambitions and bolder targets for this relationship.
While the UK is the fifth-largest foreign investor in India, we are the third-largest investors in the UK and provide 110,000 jobs in the country. There are huge, unlimited opportunities waiting in India, with a billion people aspiring for a better future - looking for energy and world-class infrastructure. These opportunities were encapsulated by the Hon. Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Budget a few weeks ago when she highlighted the fact that we are looking for an investment of over £1 trillion in the next five years - huge investments across all sectors. For that, the close relationship that the people of India and the UK share, that the governments between the two countries share, is truly an ideal opportunity to quickly grab a larger share of that pie. In fact, housing, smart cities, newer and better railway stations as hubs of economic activity, a vastly expanding gas grid, telecom and transportation network and clean energy offer immense potential to further trade and business. With technology advancements in the UK, we can not only bring newer technologies to India but also bring scale to them and make them much more affordable. This would make it an attractive export proposition to serve the rest of the world, be it the developing world or the developed world.
I think everyone is looking for cost competitiveness and this partnership of the UK's technology investment capabilities and Indian skilled manpower can make that happen. It can truly empower British businesses to go across the world and expand their markets in a cost-effective and advantageous manner.
The goal is to put India at the centre of the economic programmes of the UK so that we can work together in taking the ideas of this partnership to different parts of the world. India and UK together can be a partnership that will be very difficult to compete with. The three thrust areas which can help towards this goal would be - inclusion, investment and innovation. If we work together with this spirit, we have a very bright future ahead of us.
Piyush Goyal is India's Minister of Commerce & Industry, and Railways.