A high level London conference staged by the Conferation of Indian Industry (CII) has heard Indian owned firms operating in the UK are positive or only moderately concerned about the impact of Brexit.
This year’s CII annual UK conference was themed around “UK-India Economic Relations: Beyond Brexit” and held at the Taj Hotel. The conference was supported by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), and Manchester’s inward investment agency MIDAS, the event’s first regional partner. The conference also coincided with the visit of a CEOs delegation from India to the UK.
Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, told the conference a recent survey of Indian companies in the UK found that half believed Brexit could have positive or no implication on their UK operations. The other half meanwhile reported a “moderate” level of concern regarding access to single market and global talent.
“Most companies have deliberated on their post-Brexit strategy but are not considering major alterations as yet,” he said. “This augurs well for the continued strong involvement of Indian companies in the UK economy. Another CII-UKIBC survey establishes nearly 90% of respondents believe that UK-India Partnership Agreement would improve trade and investment.”
HE YK Sinha, India’s High Commissioner to UK called for a boost in the trade in goods between the UK and India as levels have dropped 12-13pc in the last year. He emphasized that India was doing ‘extraordinarily well’ as the fastest growing economy in the world. He told the audience Brexit is both a challenge and an opportunity.
“The historical and multifaceted relationship between the two countries will continue to strengthen even after Brexit,” he said. “In this regard, the two countries have already set up a Joint Working Group on Trade to further promote the bilateral economic partnership. There are many areas, where cooperation between the two countries will go a long way in boosting ties, like digital economy; smart cities; education; financial and professional services; healthcare, and pharmaceuticals; infrastructure; manufacturing, defence and security; start-ups; tourism and hospitality. We see Brexit as an opportunity to shift from a transactional to a transformational relationship.”
A report showcasing the profiles of Indian companies’ in the UK was also released on the occasion by High Commissioner Sinha.
Ms. Shobana Kamineni, President, CII and Executive Vice-Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals hailed ease of doing business reforms in India, particularly the upcoming GST roll out, which is expected to simplify tax structures and impact foreign companies operating in India positively. She further outlined strategic defence partnerships, advanced manufacturing and start-ups as important areas to explore India-UK collaboration.
Patricia Hewitt, Chair, UK India Business Council, told the audience how Britain can benefit from India’s growth and improved buying power.
“As the UK begins Brexit negotiations, India becomes even more important to our future . Indian companies and investors are creating jobs and growth here in Britain just as British firms and investors are creating jobs and growth in India. We need to keep reminding people here that a job created in India is not a job lost in Britain. As India grows, millions of people will move out of appalling poverty and start to build a better life for themselves and their families- and that is something we should all welcome. But as Indians become better off, they will buy more from Britain – and that is good for jobs and growth here too.”
Rt Hon Mark Field MP, the newly appointed Minister for Asia at the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), delivered the closing address at the conference, paying tribute to the strong personal ties between India and the UK calling the Indian diaspora the ‘living bridge’ between the countries. Mr Field also defended the UK’s visa stance towards India, a hot topic during the conference with a number of calls for reform. However, Mr Field championed the UK’s stance ‘busting visa myths’ detailing numerous advantages Indian citizens have including being the only country with a same day visa service. Mr Field said as Britain leaves the EU the relations between the UK and India will be taken to a new level with business, and particularly SMEs playing a key role in that new relationship.
The session was followed by a business panel discussion moderated by Richard Heald OBE, CEO, UKIBC, on India-UK sector and regional engagement. Panellists, Rajiv I Modi, Chairman & Managing Director, Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited, Ravi Parthasarathy, Chairman, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited, Nikhil Sawhney, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Triveni Turbine Limited, Shreekant Somany, Chairman, CII MSME Council and Chairman & Managing Director, Somany Ceramics Ltd., shared their expertise across sectors.