Golden opportunity for UK, India to reforge trade ties: Fox
New Delhi : Keen to forge deeper trade ties with India as it exits the European Union, Britain today said it is a natural partner of the world’s fastest growing major economy with whom it wants to team up to challenge the protectionist sentiments gaining traction around the globe.
UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox offered support to India’s ambitious Smart City programme, besides strengthening bilateral trade and investment to help the Indian economy to grow.
“It is important that we together challenge the protectionist sentiments that have been gaining traction across the world to remove those barriers that inhibit free and open trade, and to champion to see export and spread prosperity,” he said at the India-UK Tech Summit here.
Responding to his call on doing away with protectionism, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said as the USD 2.2-trillion Indian economy expands, it is “least influenced” by voices of protectionism.
“Normally, it is the least developed and developing economies which have a tendency to cry for protectionism and that is a voice that’s almost not heard in India,” Jaitley said. “We are looking to open out and that’s the direction of our economy.”
Fox is here as part of a delegation led by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is on her first overseas trip as the UK sees that the India’s rapidly growing economy could provide it with trade opportunities as it prepares to leave the European Union.
“We are natural partner for India and ready to help you, skill your workforce and grow your economy, boost bilateral trade and investment and cooperate on science and education,” Fox said.
The two nations, he said, now have “golden opportunity” to reforge trading relationship. “Britain and India may be geographically apart but we are close commercial partners… We have a common understanding that trade and investment brings economic growth and prosperity for our citizens.”
He said Britain contributes about 8 per cent to India’s FDI and in turn India is the third largest foreign investor into the UK.
“The UK and India could be stronger still. We discussed ways to strengthen our relationship (at bilateral talks yesterday) and I am delighted we formally established a Joint Working Group (JWG) on trade and investment which will enable regular and ongoing dialogue with an aim to broaden and deepen our relationship,” he said.
The Minister said that UK’s thriving technology sector can help India achieve its ambitious goals. “India has smart cities project, Britain is world leader to implement the projects, intelligent transport system and data analytics,” he added.
Fox said the British government and its foremost companies are participating in the Tech Summit to prove to India that the UK is the best place in the world to research develop and grow business in the sector.