Cameron calls upon India to open up insurance, banking and retail

UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently made a strong pitch for opening up insurance, banking and retail sectors by India for overseas investments. He also called for further simplification of investment procedures to do easy business by foreign companies in India.

Further, Cameron, who is heading over 200 member business delegation, announced that UK will for the first time start issuing same day visas to Indian businessmen. In his speech at the meeting with the representatives of Indian industries and businesses he said “We are looking forward to the future. We want to be your partner of choice in this fantastic journey you are on.”

Cameron’s visit comes close on the heels of controversy over the procurement of 12 helicopters for use by VVIPs in 2010, which were bought for $748 million (560 million euros) from Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

Besides, the visit of  UK Prime Minister, which is second after he assumed office in 2010, ‘s visit also comes at a time when UK based telecom major Vodafone is engaged in tax related dispute with the  Indian government.

About 700 Indian companies operate in the UK, with the diversified Tata group being the largest private manufacturing sector employer in that country. The two countries are also looking to expand trade. Bilateral merchandise trade in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012 rose 27% from the previous year to $16.16 billion. The countries hope to increase their annual trade to about $34.15 billion by 2015.

As of last October, UK’s foreign direct investments in India totaled $17.08 billion, making it the third largest investor in India behind Mauritius and Singapore.

Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons said it has been a pleasant surprise to be in UK for the manner in which the UK government is supporting. “We are in discussions with the UK government where we can get incentives or support to make our operations more competitive in the world.” He admitted that the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover by Tata  Motors has been a success though its acquisition of Corus is still facing problem.

Moreover, Adi Godrej, President, Confederation of Indian Industry was optimistic about further increase in trade and investments between the two countries especially in critical areas like infrastructure, healthcare, skill development, advanced manufacturing and innovative technology. However, Godrej made a strong case of improvement in the UK’s regulatory environment for investments.

“Indian companies who want to acquire companies in the UK have been facing  delays and long legal hassles. Besides, there are long delays in getting visa,” Godrej noted.

On the other hand, Jaspal Singh Bindra, group executive director, CEO, Asia, Standard Chartered referred to regulatory uncertainties and retrospective taxation issues in India. However, he welcomed recent confidence building measures and reform measures launched by the central government.

Naina Lal Kidwai, president, FICCI emphasised the need for policy consistency and certainty in the country. She hoped that GST, if implemented, will be a major contributor to GDP.

UK Calling

  • British PM reiterates his government’s resolve to boost ties with India
  • Informs that UK as third largest investor in India behind Mauritius and Singapore
  • Refers to success stories of Indian investments in UK
  • Indian businessmen pitch for further improvement in regulatory environment in UK

Who’s who present at the meeting

Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, Godrej Group chairman Adi Godrej, Reliance Industries executive director Nikhil Meswani, Standard Chartered Group executive director, CEO, Asia, Standard Chartered Jaspal Singh Bindra, Naina Lal Kidwai, president, FICCI,  Jai Corp chairman Anand Jain, Hiranandani, managing director, Hiranandani Group and Phiroz Vandrevala,  Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Diligenta Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Consultancy Services Limited.

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