I don't want to take India for granted like Britain has done in the past: Theresa May

Full text of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s address at India-U.K. Tech Summit in New Delhi on November 7, 2016

November 07, 2016 02:11 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 10:50 pm IST

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during the India-U.K. 'Tech Summit' in New Delhi on November 7, 2016.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during the India-U.K. 'Tech Summit' in New Delhi on November 7, 2016.

I am delighted to be here in India. Prime Minister Modi, not only did I accept your invitation as soon as I could, I chose to make it my first bilateral visit outside Europe as Prime Minister and my first ever trade mission. And I want to start by explaining why. It is because of the very special partnership between our countries not just bcause of the business we do with one another, but the values we share of democracy, responsibility, rule of law and fair play. With so much in common when it comes to trade, values and culture, and of course, our people with One and a half million people of Indian origin living in Britain, ours is a natural partnership. Look around India and Britain and you will see we listen to each other’s music, eat each other’s food and share a passionate rivalry on the cricket pitch. I am looking forward to the test match that starts in Gujarat on Wednesday.

When two countries are as old as UK and India, it is tempting to many to look at the past, to talk about the years already gone and take for granted or make assumptions about what we have. Frankly, people in Britain have done that too often in the past. I don’t want to do that. I want to talk about the importance of this relationship today and the limitless possibilities that I believe will be open to us in the future. I would use this visit to discuss with PM Modi, his team and Indian businesses how we can work together to seize those possibilities, Building a partnership that is focused resolutely on shaping our shared future bilaterally and on the global stage. We want Britain to be the most committed and passionate advocate of free trade in the world. That is because free trade makes a rising tide to lift all boats, it makes us all richer, creates jobs, it increases investments, improves productivity, transforms living standards and create opportunities for all of our citizens.

This is why as Britain leaves the European Union, we are determined not to turn our backs on the world, but to forge a new global outward looking world for ourselves. Because we know from history, what happens when countries do not embrace the opportunities of the world. They stagnate, they get poorer, they don’t protect their people. They make them worse off. Of course, no country owes any other country anything but we stand the greatest chance at success when we work with partners with whom we share similar values, legal systems, approaches to business and ways of looking at the world. That’s why I have made my first trade mission and first bilateral visit outside Europe to India. Because more trade, more investment and fewer barriers to business in our two countries will make us all more prosperous, peaceful and secure. And within this unique partnership, there is so much potential for us to advance those things. We have a strong starting point with Britain investing more in India than any other G20 country and India investing more in Britain than it does in all other EU countries put together. Indian businesses, over 800, are a fixture in British life, with one - Jaguar Land Rover of the Tatas - being the largest manufacturing employer. Right now, there are British businesses exporting everything from engines to insurance to India.

But those things are happening despite the continued existence of the barriers to trade and co-operation. Just think how much further we could go if our governments worked even more closely together, if we took even more advantage of the links between us and if we put not only trade and investment, but also the exchange of ideas, innovation and technology at the heart of our ambitions. There couldn’t be a more appropriate place to focus on that than the UK India Tech Summit. This is where so much scope for increased trade and investment lies. With 3 Indians experiencing the internet for the first time every second, with the country on course to be a digital market with one billion people, with so many graduates launching startups from Mumbai to Hyderabad or Cyberabad as it’s known, this is an area filled with opportunities. Indeed, I am looking forward to visiting Bengaluru tomorrow to see India’s startup capital for myself. Again, we have a headstart in this… we have Britain’s 3D printing tools in Pune bringing solar power to remote parts of India, funding Indian infrastructure through masala bonds.

Today, I want to talk about how our governments, our businesses and those with a stake in this partnership can build upon that for our countries mutual benefits. First, we can identify where opportunities lie and which businesses can take advantage of them. That is exactly what we are doing with this trade delegation, bringing along some of our biggest and most successful companies and our brightest startups from every region of UK, in order to open up new markets for them and promote them to the wider world. One of them is using its unique technology to teach children to code in UK schools. Just think of the impact that could have in India. Another is the foremost maker of smart street lighting. There’s a huge opportunity to play a role in India’s urban renewal. Another firm is an expert in gene sequencing that would help dramatically reduce the costs involved in screening illnesses in India. Second, we can look upon each other’s priorities as our own priorities. As countries, we both need to ensure that we take advantage of the opportunities of the century ahead. And we can do so together.

As PM Modi pursues his ambition for smart cities, Digital India, and Make In India, in Britain, we are focused on economic reform, social reform and building a country that works for everyone. I believe we should through our entire weight behind each other’s efforts. Indeed, we already have our urban planners working on your smart cities and making wi-fi more accessible across india. Meanwhile, Indian investment is helping us diversify our economy and bring prosperity to every corner of our country. In fact, Prime Minister Modi and I are going even further, announcing a new UK India urban partnership focusing on smart cities. The ultimate demonstration of our long term relationship is not just trading, but sharing of our skills, technology and expertise. Third, and most importantly, we can break down barriers and make it easier to do business. That though, does not just mean offering incentives as Britain is doing with the lowest corporation tax in the G7, with export finance and tax credits for those undertaking research and development in Britain. It means helping each other to break down barriers to trade and investment in and between our two countries. So that is why the UK is working side by side with PM Modi in his mission to make it easier to do business in India. For example, by strengthening intellectual property rights and paving the way for our world-leading services sector to operate in the Indian market, benefitting India and the UK alike. But I am determined that we will go further.

I will be discussing with PM Modi how we can increase detail and depth of our trade and investment discussions and identify what more we can do now to unleash our businesses, exporters and investors. This does not need to wait for us to leave the EU. We must also recognize that it’s not just the legal framework that is essential for effective trade and investment, it is people too. It is crucial that those who do need to travel between our countries for business can do so. That is the reason when I was home secretary, I made the visa process for Indians much easier. India now has one of the best visa services for UK in the world, with more application points than any other country and the only country where it is possible to get a same-day visa. That happened because we listened to what businesses are saying. And we are still listening, listening to the fact that so many people from India want to bring their ideas, skills and business to Britain for the good of your economy and ours. So we will offer for the first time to any country that needs visas to enter Britain what is called a registered travelers scheme. That means the Indian nationals who frequently come to the UK and imbue growth in both our countries, the entry process will become significantly easier. Fewer forms to fill out, access to the EU-EEA passport controls, swifter passage through our airports – in short, more opportunities for Britain and India and a very clear message that Britain is very much open for business. To conclude, I want to return to that argument I was making about the importance of free trade, for we need to make this case around the world, not only to make our countries more prosperous, but to make them more stable and secure too. The UK and India can play a big role in that. We can lead the way so even more nations can share in those things. That is one of the main things that through this partnership between our countries, Prime Minister Modi and I, and indeed, everyone in this room can help achieve.

Thank You.

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