In­dia, Bri­tain talk trade and in­vest­ment as Brexit looms

Jamaica Gleaner - - MARKET REPORTS -

BRI­TISH PRIME Min­is­ter Theresa May and her In­dian coun­ter­part, Naren­dra Modi, held talks Mon­day aimed at deep­en­ing ties be­tween their coun­tries and boost­ing trade and in­vest­ment as the United King­dom pre­pares to leave the Euro­pean Union.

May ar­rived in New Delhi late Sunday on her first trip out­side of Europe since she be­came prime min­is­ter in July. She was ac­com­pa­nied by trade of­fi­cials and a large busi­ness del­e­ga­tion con­sist­ing pre­dom­i­nantly of small and medium-size busi­nesses.

The talks be­tween the two lead­ers fo­cused on bring­ing down trade bar­ri­ers and pre­par­ing the ground for a free-trade deal af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU.

Modi hopes to at­tract Bri­tish com­pa­nies to in­vest in In­dia and urge Bri­tain to ease visa re­stric­tions on In­dian busi­ness lead­ers trav­el­ling to the UK, while May would also like In­dian com­pa­nies to in­vest more in Bri­tain. In re­cent years, In­dia has emerged as the third-big­gest in­vestor in Bri­tain.

Ac­cord­ing to Bri­tain’s trade of­fice, In­dia is the sec­ond­largest in­ter­na­tional job cre­ator in the coun­try, with In­dian com­pa­nies cur­rently em­ploy­ing more than 100,000 peo­ple.

Ear­lier Mon­day, Modi and May in­au­gu­rated a tech­nol­ogy sum­mit to boost trade in ad­vanced sci­en­tific and tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses.

“Bri­tain is open for busi­ness,” May told del­e­gates at the In­di­aUK Tech Sum­mit, billed as South Asia’s big­gest tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence.

EAS­ING VISA RE­STRIC­TIONS

The con­tentious is­sue of eas­ing visa rules for In­di­ans to en­ter the UK has fig­ured promi­nently dur­ing May’s visit.

Modi told the tech­nol­ogy sum­mit that greater mo­bil­ity for young In­di­ans was im­por­tant for In­dia.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tal for our stu­dents and will de­fine our en­gage­ment in a shared fu­ture,” Modi said. “We must there­fore en­cour­age greater mo­bil­ity and par­tic­i­pa­tion of young peo­ple in ed­u­ca­tion and re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

May said a small num­ber of “high net worth” in­di­vid­u­als would find it eas­ier to en­ter Bri­tain as visa re­stric­tions would be re­laxed for them.

She said In­dian busi­ness lead­ers who fre­quently visit the UK would be al­lowed en­try un­der a “reg­is­tered trav­eller scheme,” a pro­gramme that has so far been ex­tended only to cit­i­zens of de­vel­oped coun­tries.

For the rest, she in­sisted that the UK “al­ready has a good sys­tem” for visa ap­pli­ca­tions from In­dia.

In­dian of­fi­cials said the tight­en­ing of visa rules was re­spon­si­ble for a sharp de­cline in the num­ber of In­dian stu­dents en­rolling in Bri­tish uni­ver­si­ties.

FREE FLOW OF FI­NANCE

“We will con­tinue to raise our con­cerns re­gard­ing mo­bil­ity with the UK,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesman of In­dia’s Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs. “Mo­bil­ity of peo­ple is closely linked to free flow of fi­nance, goods and ser­vices.”

With con­cerns over eco­nomic stag­na­tion and un­cer­tainty as Bri­tain ex­its the EU, May said her gov­ern­ment wanted to “en­sure that the UK re­mains one of the most at­trac­tive coun­tries in the world to do busi­ness and in­vest.”

She said the UK and In­dia were “nat­u­ral part­ners.

“As the UK leaves the EU and In­dia con­tin­ues its rise in the world, we should seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead,” May said in a state­ment at the end of her talks with Modi.

The two lead­ers dis­cussed de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and cybersecurity and agreed to work to­gether to safe­guard their coun­tries from emerg­ing se­cu­rity threats, she said.

At the end of the talks, of­fi­cials from the two coun­tries signed agree­ments on the ease of do­ing busi­ness and pro­tect­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. They also set up a joint panel to pro­mote trade.

More than 65 years af­ter In­dia gained in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tish colo­nial rule, some of Bri­tain’s best-known brands are owned by In­dian com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Jaguar and Land Rover au­to­mo­biles and Tet­ley Tea. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May holds a wreath be­fore plac­ing it at the In­dia Gate war me­mo­rial in New Delhi, In­dia, on Mon­day, Novem­ber 7. May ar­rived in New Delhi late Sunday on her first trip out­side of Europe since she be­came prime min­is­ter in July.

AP PHOTO/SAU­RABH DAS

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi shakes hand with his Bri­tish coun­ter­part, Theresa May, be­fore a meet­ing in New Delhi, In­dia, on Mon­day, Novem­ber 7.

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