The UKIBC strongly believes that Brexit will make Britain’s relationship with India even more important, but this cannot be taken for granted from the Indian perspective.
Whilst the UK has been busy negotiating Brexit, our global competitors have strengthened links with India. On the geopolitical stage India is increasingly turning towards the Pacific. All the while UK calls for greater bilateral ties have been seen as asymmetric. In short, the challenges of shaping a ‘new equilibrium’ in UK-India economic relations are immense.
As we stated in our submission, however, this is all the more reason to relaunch the UK-India dialogue in the context of Global Britain.
The foundations for this are clear. Ranked the number one soft power in the Portland Soft Power Index with an Indian diaspora of 1.4 million UK citizens, the UK’s social ties with India could not be a stronger basis with which to renew our bilateral ties.
The growth of the digital economy offers significant opportunity for the UK, as leaders in digital expertise and innovation. to extend influence in India – a rapidly transforming data-rich economy. Indeed, the UK-India Tech Partnership – at the centre of a joint statement by both Prime Ministers earlier this year – represents a strong platform for effective collaboration.
Likewise, India’s huge strides towards economic development have generated equally large demands for education and skills. With world-class provision of Higher Education, the UK could be a valuable partner for the success of India’s long-term interests.
Though a Free-Trade deal is someway off, there is much that can be done now to expand business between the UK and India. As such JETCO and the ‘Ease of Doing Business Agenda’ should receive renewed focus in preparation for a successful future agreement.
Not only should this be explicitly shaped by the UK industrial and export strategy, but we should recognise India’s needs. This is particularly the case with a UK visa regime that does not currently reflect the best of Britain. Strategically it is also in the UK’s interests to back a greater role for India in CHOGM and the UN, building on our common causes in defence and climate change.
Though the challenges are immense, as are the opportunities for collaboration across sectors and interests for a truly Global Britain.
Thank you to all our members who have contributed to our final submission. We hope you find our submission not only a fair appraisal of the state of relations between the UK and India, but a roadmap for the future of these relations rooted in UKIBC’s strategic work as an advocate for UK business in India.