labels: industry - general, economy - general, trade
UK-India investment summit; strategic partnership with EU to mark PM''s visitnews
09 October 2006

The first-ever UK-India Investment Summit will be held in London, during prime minister Manmohan Singh''s visit to Britain. The visit is expected to boost flagging business ties between the two countries, reports CNBC-TV18.

Despite all the friendly activity between India and Britain, only 1 per cent of British trade is with India, and only 0.5 per cent of British FDI goes to India. Manmohan Singh will lead a move to change that.

"The entire attention today is riveted on India. So this is the opportunity for India to leverage. This is the image of India, which has never been so good as an investment destination as it is today. And that is why it is the government''s job and the Prime Minister''s intention to leverage that image of India," said Ashwini Kumar, minister of state, commerce and industry.

Many businessmen believe that the time has finally come for better business ties. Lord Karan Billimoria, co-chairman of the Indo-British Roundtable said, "There''s a huge amount of interest, increasing almost literally day by day in India. The India story is now gathering enormous momentum. And British businesses are now waking up, in every field and in every sector."

The first ever investment summit is being held with the expectation that a businessman looks at a glass 99 per cent empty, and sees opportunity. Opportunities have been hyped for a while, but now there is reason for hope.

The meeting in London will be their fifth in two-and-a-half years, and possibly Tony Blair''s third and last India-UK Summit. Comfort levels are high allowing Manmohan Singh to candidly discuss the involvement of Pakistan''s ISI and Pakistan based terror groups in the 7 / 11 Mumbai blasts.

Both leaders will also chat about common security initiatives, such as rules for dealing with global funders of terrorism and security arrangements for mega events like the Olympics, which Britain will host in 2012 and Delhi''s Commonwealth Games in 2010.

"We will bring them up to date with what we have experienced, what we think and what we expect," said Foreign Secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon.

Manmohan Singh, who will receive an honorary degree from Cambridge university during this trip, and will be in Helsinki on October 12.

A bilateral will be followed by the 7th India-EU Summit.

Two years ago, India and EU became strategic partners. Last year, they adopted an ambitious Joint Action Plan, which provided the meat to the bone of the strategic partnership. This year, in Helsinki, it''s time for action.

"Officials have recommended a broad based bilateral trade and investment agreement between India and EU. It''s now for the political leaders to take a decision on the contents of the report," added Shiv Shankar Menon.

In Helsinki, the Prime Minister will also personally seek support for the Indo-US nuclear deal from Finland, Norway, Sweden, and other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The Nordic nations, unlike the UK, France and Germany, have so far, not backed the deal openly, but are keeping a close eye on the happenings in the US Congress and the IAEA. A consensus in the NSG is vital for opening up nuclear trade with India.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, will spend much of his time with European and Indian leaders of business and commerce. EU is India''s largest trading partner, the UK, India''s fourth largest trading partner. This focus on enhancing trade and economic linkages with Europe is indicative of the relatively smooth political relationship between India and Europe.

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UK-India investment summit; strategic partnership with EU to mark PM''s visit