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David Cameron sees vast opportunities for British firms in India's growth story

Special Correspondent
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“This is a trade mission, but I prefer to see it as a jobs mission”

British Prime Minister David Cameron receiving a memento from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman Ashok Nayak during his visit to the HAL centre in Bangalore on Wednesday. A Hawk Mk-132 aircraft can be seen in the background. — Photo Bhagya Prakash K.
British Prime Minister David Cameron receiving a memento from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman Ashok Nayak during his visit to the HAL centre in Bangalore on Wednesday. A Hawk Mk-132 aircraft can be seen in the background. — Photo Bhagya Prakash K.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the rapid growth of the Indian economy presents “enormous opportunities” for British companies to do business in India.

Addressing a large gathering of business leaders and Infosys employees on the Infosys Technologies' campus in Bangalore, Mr. Cameron said he had come to India “with a very clear purpose, to take the relationship between Britain and India to the next level.”

“My seriousness is demonstrated by the fact that I am leading the biggest visiting delegation of any British Prime Minister in recent years,” he said.

The delegation included members of the British Cabinet, leaders of business and industry, social entrepreneurs, civic leaders, people from Britain's “most forward-looking” arts institutions and museums and sportspersons.

Doha Round

Mr. Cameron urged India to open up insurance, banking, defence manufacturing and legal services to foreign competition. He expressed the hope that the India-European Union Free Trade Agreement would be signed by the end of the year.

He said he was “pushing” for the early conclusion of the Doha Round at the World Trade Organisation, and suggested making the “deal bigger in order to achieve progress.”

Mr. Cameron said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had “personally provided great intellectual leadership in economic matters” at the recent G-20 Summit.

“That is why the time has come for India to take the seat it deserves at the U.N. Security Council,” he said.

Referring to the global impact of rapid economic growth in India, Mr. Cameron pointed out that the Tatas were now the biggest employer in the manufacturing sector in Britain. Indian economic growth also presented “enormous opportunities” for British firms — particularly in infrastructure, retail and mobile phone services, he said.

“I want the relationship to drive economic growth up and unemployment down in both countries,” he said. “Yes, this is a trade mission, but I prefer to see it as a jobs mission.”

Climate change

Referring to the challenge posed by climate change, Mr. Cameron said, “We are now looking down a barrel, with changes in physical geography causing changes in human geography.”

Britain, he said, has managed to reduce carbon emission levels to 20 per cent below 1990 levels. Climate change mitigation also presented opportunities through the “triple gains” of clean energy, electricity for the poor and more jobs, he added.

Asked why his government was reviewing some of the outsourcing contracts negotiated by the Labour government, Mr. Cameron said, Britain, “as one of the most open economies in the world” was prepared to outsource or receive foreign investment from across the world. He said his government had to re-evaluate the cost of contracts.

“We have a huge budget deficit, and one of the main tasks of my government is to ensure that we can live within our means again.”


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