News In Depth
PM: India should open markets to UK
David Cameron has urged India to open up its markets in areas like insurance and banking to British companies, as he led a 100-strong trade mission to the emerging economic giant.
Mr Cameron said that Britain was "incredibly welcoming" to inward investment by Indian firms in historic names like Jaguar and Tetley Tea, and was making it easier for Indian business people and students to come to the UK.
But he said the process must "go both ways" and called on Delhi to sweep away barriers to trade which he said were antiquated and were holding back development in the country.
Mr Cameron has made developing trade with new economic powers like India a key foreign policy priority since coming to power in 2010.
And his decision to assemble the largest trade delegation ever to travel with a Prime Minister was a signal of his intent, as was his decision to return to India for the second time in just two and a half years in office.
But he also took time out to enjoy some of India's cultural delights, taking part in a game of cricket with local youngsters at Mumbai's Oval Maidan recreation ground, and talking about his plans to enjoy a Kerala fish curry and watch Bollywood movies on his flights.
Speaking on the first day of his visit, Mr Cameron revealed he was talking to the government in New Delhi about the prospects for a "corridor of development" between Mumbai and Bangalore, featuring new towns and infrastructure, which could provide opportunities for British planners, architects, construction firms and private finance experts. Britain could provide £1 million in funding for a feasibility project for the scheme.
He announced the introduction of a new "same-day" visa service for Indian business people, in response to unhappiness with the current system which can take three days or more to process applications.
And he said there was "no limit" to the number of Indians who would be allowed to study at UK universities and stay on in graduate-level jobs after they qualified.
Speaking to workers at the Mumbai headquarters of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever group, Mr Cameron said: "Britain is one of the most open, easy-to-invest-in countries in the world. We are incredibly welcoming.
"I am very proud of the fact that it is an Indian company, Tata, that makes the Jaguars and Land Rovers that are taking the world by storm. They also roll most of our steel and own Tetley Tea - and you don't get any more British than Tetley Tea.
"I am very proud of that. Britain is an open economy and we encourage that investment.
"I think, in return, we should be having a conversation about opening up the Indian economy, making it easier to do business here, allowing insurance and banking companies to do more foreign direct investment into the Indian economy.
"There are still many rules and regulations in the Indian economy associated with how you did things in the past which, if you change them, will make your economy grow and deliver more jobs, more wealth, more prosperity across your country.
"It's a good conversation to have, but it goes both ways. We should look at the things we need to do to take our barriers down, and we hope your government will do the same."
Mr Cameron is accompanied on his three-day trip by representatives not only of major corporations like BP, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, but also small businesses and academic institutions, as well as football's Premier League, the London Underground and nine parliamentarians.
He told his audience in Mumbai that he wants Britain's partnership with India to be "a really special relationship" for the 21st century.
"Britain wants to be your partner of choice," said Mr Cameron. "We think there are huge ties of history and language and culture and business, but we think we have only just started on the sort of partnership we could build."
But he was foxed by a question put to him by a worker at the Unilever, who asked him which of the company's products he most enjoyed.
Unilever produces some of Britain's best known brands, from Marmite to Persil washing powder, Dove soap and Hellman's mayonnaise.
But either out of diplomacy, forgetfulness or reluctance to bestow a prime ministerial endorsement on a commercial brand, Mr Cameron failed to come up with a name.
"I don't want to start a flurry of excitement by saying I use Pear's soap or whatever it is," he said. "I might get some of your brands wrong and mention a dishwasher liquid we use and find out it is made by your competitor.
"So, I'm going to do that thing politicians always do when they get a really tough one - and dodge the question."
what do you think?
Cameron tells the Indians there is no limit to the number of Indian students allowed in British Universities and they can stay on in post graduate jobs if they qualify. What about our students who him and his coalition have excluded form these Universities because they can't afford the fees. Only last week one student was turned down because the person couldn't prove they could meet the cost of living standards after entry.
My sentiments exactly. Are their students having to pay the exorbitant university fees? My son opted out of his chance to go on to uni as he could not face the prospect of leaving with debts of over £50,000. plus interest!
Totally agree George, I say look after your own first David, this Country of ours is going to the dogs, and the more this government do the more mess they make of it, but the worrying thing is I cannot see any other Party making a di9fference all out for their own ends blow the rest of us just keep paying your taxes plebs.
Didn't TATA 'invest' in the UK steel industry by closing UK plants and moving production abroad - with a nice little backhander from the EU for doing so?
The backhander from from the British Government NOT the EU, get your facts right!
What a hypocrite telling India to start infrastructure projects now when at home he keeps delaying our own infrastucture projects for years ( Heathrow etc.)
UK for sale
There is nothing to sell. Except massive social security bills
They should be made to pay their taxes by law and if they fail they should be subject to the same punishment ordinary working people get. Also they should go back years to retrieve taxes owed the same way ordinary people are made to pay up. Taxation isn't voluntary, if it were nobody would pay taxes. It's good to see Cameron true to form is speaking out against his Tory buddies away from home where it will do him little damage.
We should stop giving India money. They don't need it. If they do not want to do business with us that's fine. If they need hand-outs they should come from the nations doing business with them