New Delhi, (Delhi), [India], May 3 (ANI/NewsVoir): The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) welcomes the news that PM Modi and PM Johnson will meet virtually tomorrow to deepen cooperation between our two countries, including on combatting COVID.
While the pandemic has to be the immediate priority, it is encouraging that the Prime Ministers are working together now on medium - and long-term priorities such as climate action, healthcare, defence and security, and trade and investment.
Trade and Investment:
The trade and investment partnership is particularly important, and the UKIBC hopes that the meeting tomorrow will provide more details of the Enhanced Trade Partnership initiated by Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industries, and his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade.
Our two countries are starting from a position of strength. UK-India trade grew by 10 percent to GBP 24 billion in the year before the pandemic. India is the second largest investor in the UK and, over the last decade, the UK has been the second fastest growing G20 investor in India.
Nevertheless, there is great potential to do even better. The UK and India are the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world, they are both growing, and there is great complementarity between them.
Businesses are looking forward to the Governments implementing an Enhanced Trade Partnership that addresses market access barriers in the short- and medium-term and begins the journey to an eventual Free Trade Agreement.
With our economies growing and the barriers reducing, we at the UKIBC expect to see a step-change in the volume and nature of the trade and investment relationship. Alongside the reduction and removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to goods trade, it is important that the ETP recognises the critical importance, to both countries, of knowledge- and technology-driven trade, such as digital, data, and financial services.
By reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers, including the alignment of standards, the benefits will be felt across many sectors, most notably digital and ICT, food and drink, defence, healthcare and pharma, and advanced manufacturing.
The Enhanced Trade Partnership is therefore important - it will create jobs and prosperity in both countries, and we at the UKIBC look forward to supporting the implementation of the ETP on this exciting and important journey to an FTA.
COVID recovery and healthcare:
The UK and India have cooperated and supported each other consistently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: in the UK's first wave the export of pharmaceuticals and PPE from India helped to save lives, the Oxford University-Astra Zeneca vaccine manufactured in Pune is one of the world's leading vaccines, and now the UK is supporting the second wave in India through the export of oxygen concentrators, mobile oxygen factories, and ventilators. Friends and partners support each other in challenging times, and the UKIBC is delighted to be playing a role in sourcing UK suppliers of these life-saving items.
It is important that this collaboration sustains and evolves after the pandemic. It will bring solutions to our countries' own healthcare challenges and, given the exciting R&D work going on in the UK and India and the drug manufacturing capability in both countries, the UK and India could provide solutions to support global problems. Together, we can lead the world on R&D and production, combining the best of our medical technology - including digital and AI - and our drug discovery capabilities.
The UKIBC welcomes that the UK-India 10-year roadmap, trailed by the countries' Foreign and External Affairs Ministers in December 2020, includes healthcare as one of the five priorities for the bilateral partnership. We look forward to supporting businesses to make a difference to the health and well-being of the UK and Indian people.
The inclusion of climate change as a priority in the 10-year UK-India road map, trailed by the Foreign and External Affairs Ministers in December 2020, shows just how important the issue is and just how important the UK and India are in the fight against climate change.
The role of business will be crucial to the fight through investments, innovation, and research and development to create solutions to mitigate and adapt to our changing environment.
Tech-rich UK businesses are keen to collaborate with their Indian counterparts in a wide range of areas, including waste to energy, solar, wind, electric vehicles and associated infrastructure, and in hydrogen.
We at the UKIBC look forward to further details of the governments' collaboration plans and look forward to supporting by bringing businesses that can help both countries achieve their climate goals.
Defence and Security:
As India is the world's third-highest military spender and its Government increased the FDI cap from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in 2020, there is significant scope for even more UK investments and UK-India co-creation of defence and aerospace technologies.
There is also increased collaboration between the armed forces of the two countries, with the UK's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and accompanying fleet set to be deployed on a maiden voyage to the Indian Ocean this month.
Beyond national security considerations, defence, aerospace and security are critical sectors for India's industrial objectives as set out in Government's Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat missions.
A flourishing Indian defence sector requires increased foreign technology transfer and foreign investment that will meet not just the needs of India but will also be exported to other countries.
UK businesses, like Rolls Royce, BAE systems, Babcock, MBDA and Thales are deeply committed to India. And the inclusion of defence and security as one of the priorities in the UK-India 10-year roadmap, announced by the Foreign and External Affairs Ministers in December 2020, will, we hope, greatly enable business to business activity.
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