India-UK: A partnership of equals

The below article by Sir James Bevan was published at

India today wants investment to grow. With the UK having invested more in India than any G20 country in the last 14 years, we’re perfectly placed to help. As the British High Commissioner, you would expect to hear from me that the UK is India’s friend. But this friendship isn’t just strong, it has transformed in recent years.

Together we’ve built a stronger, wider, deeper partnership of equals, based on mutual respect. Our countries share a commitment to democracy, we are fellow members of the Commonwealth, our history is intertwined, and our societies are deeply linked. The world’s second largest overseas Indian population lives in the UK. But our bond also has at its heart a robust and flourishing economic partnership.

I’m proud to represent the UK in India at this exciting moment in the economic development of this great country. PM Modi has set out ambitious plans to grow India’s economy and create the jobs its people need. He has rightly recognised that India needs investment. The UK and its businesses have the track record to do that.

Last year the UK invested $3.2 billion in India, more than any other G20 country, indeed more than the second and third ranked G20 countries combined: Japan ($1.7bn) and the US (just under $1bn). Over the last 14 years, the UK ranks No. 1 in the G20 and accounts for 10 per cent of all investment into India over this period. The BP-Reliance deal is the single largest investment in India.

This benefits both countries. UK investment in India creates wealth and jobs in the UK as its companies grow. It helps India make money, be it JCB making and exporting backhoe loaders from its India plants or the British shoe company Pavers making shoes here for its numerous outlets. But investment is also reciprocal – with the UK a significant and growing recipient of Indian investment. India is the seventh-largest investor in the UK and invests more in the UK than it invests in the rest of Europe combined.

Tata is the largest manufacturing employer in the UK, 45,000 employees across companies like Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Steel and Tetley Tea. Indeed, Jaguar Land Rover is a great example of how close and multi-faceted this UK-India relationship is – a famous UK company, owned by one of India’s powerhouse conglomerates, expanding and prospering in the UK, producing cars in India as well, and selling cars around the world. My flag car is a Land Rover – in essence a British-Indian car.

But we can’t be complacent. We are working hard since the election to set out what the UK can offer India, bringing ministers and business delegations here.

Dr Cable and his business delegation, due here at the British Business Groups October 10-12 Convention reflect that advancing the case that our automative manufacturing and education sectors, to give two examples, offer their Indian counterparts much.

We think India can get yet more investment from the UK, from the biggest financial centre in the world, and from a UK business community that invests heavily in research and development, and can bring cutting edge technology and skills to marry up with Indian partners who want to get producing. That’s happening already, but India can help that process.

It can reduce restrictions on investment – it has made a good start – and it can get on with its intent to cut red tape and simplify tax.

The Great Britain India Convention is a great opportunity to work out how Indian and UK business can exploit the new opportunities we are seeing.