The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has given Britain’s new incoming Prime Minister Theresa May a firm indication that India is keen to strike a prized Free Trade Agreement.
Welcoming Mrs May’s rapid arrival to Number 10, and the swift appointment of cabinet members, Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said. “With Brexit becoming a reality, there is a need to consolidate relations with the UK, build on existing platforms and make a conscious effort to look at future opportunities and collaborations.”
Emphasizing the importance of the appointment of Mr Liam Fox as International Trade Minister in the UK, he added, “We have been urging the governments to consider fresh discussions on a bilateral trade pact while we have the first mover’s advantage. Engagement of Indian government as well as Indian industry with the UK’s International Trade Minister will be key to developing this further.”
The CII said it hopes “that the air of uncertainty that prevailed in the UK would diminish and stability would be restored expeditiously under the new leadership”.
Dr Naushad Forbes, President, CII said, “We look forward to working closely with Prime Minister May and her Cabinet colleagues in strengthening UK–India trade and investment further.” He pointed out that Indian companies play a major part in the vibrancy of the UK economy. In fact, the year 2015 saw investments from India rise by 65%, making India the third largest source of FDI in the UK. There aver 800 Indian companies in the UK who will be looking for greater clarity in emerging policies.
Earlier this month India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met with the then UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Sajid Javid in Delhi to discuss a potential deal. Mr Javid has since been replaced by Greg Hands in Mrs May’s cabinet reshuffle.
Speaking at the time Sitharaman told reporters: “Once the process of informal discussions starts then we get into discussions in detail. They will all fall into a formal framework…whether it is a preferential or a free trade agreement that will be a mutually discussed matter”.