Rebalancing Trade: Riding the tide of opportunities

Rebalancing Trade: Riding the tide of opportunities

I'm reminded of a famous line from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, which says: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

We are now riding such a tide. Global economic flux and political uncertainty means world leaders need to figure out new relationships, new opportunities and reset the rules of engagement for a more connected and less secure than before world, where unprecedented migration and the movement of people for safety or for work is leading to anxiety.

These issues need to be addressed with confidence, not by closing borders, but by opening avenues for new opportunities. For instance, medical tourism is an area in which India has a massive relative advantage vis-a-vis the Western world. Imagine a situation where beneficiaries of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) get their treatments done in India. It will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders concerned. The NHS will continue its downward pressure on waiting lists; patients will get services from India's highly acclaimed world standard hospitals; the British taxpayer, who will pick up the tab, will be charged a fraction of what it would cost for a similar procedure in the UK, and the Indian economy will receive a boost from this growing USP.

Similar opportunities for collaboration exist in the field of high end technology, where previously various EU regulations have been cited for the UK being more open to working with in. There could also be opportunities for Indian companies in the Ayurvedic space to enter Britain's burgeoning market for wellness products. Conversely, a British company could acquire such an Indian company and take its products to the UK and the wider world. Either way, it would open up new avenues for both British and Indian businesses.

Senior-most Indian origin politician Priti Patel will make her maiden visit to India as Secretary of State for Department for International Development soon. The UK's political and economic reality and her own political instincts will see her focus on a “trade rather than aid” approach, and using her huge budgets for India and other parts of the developing world to shift focus towards technical assistance and skill development. This rings well with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's own vision for India and its engagement with the rest of the world, where, previously, a begging bowl was invariably packed in a travelling Indian PM's suitcase.

These are just two examples of opportunities for collaboration that Prime Ministers Modi and Theresa May will be encouraged to explore when they eventually meet. Post-Brexit Britain will throw up plenty of opportunities for Indian businesses keen to increase their engagement with the outer world, and leverage jointly on the UK's well established global trade links, particularly in Africa. Taking advantage of Modi's proactive hard selling of India to global investors, businesses in India and abroad must take the initiative to carry forward the momentum and drive the integration of Indian trade, talent and technology into the global supply chain. International trade promotion agencies, too, must be part of this effort.

This edition of 'India Global Business' therefore makes 'Rebalancing Trade' its focal point. We have an exclusive with the Indian ambassador at the heart of the unfolding Brexit scenario in the EU and a profile of Gritty Brexiteer Priti Patel. Our usual broad range of topics includes a feature on the Soft Power of Sports and a Hotspot on Brazil, the host of the ongoing Olympic Games. I have highlighted that Brexit has given India an opening not just in Britain but also in the EU. The tide is fortuitous for India and countries that are willing to reset and reframe their relationships. The time to start moving is now because, to return to that famous quote at the start of this piece, “on such a full sea are we now afloat,and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

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