#Putting it in context, #UK Edition - March 2018

Businesses, the diaspora and policy powerhouses will all need to work in tandem to build lasting UK-India ties, writes India Inc. Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa.

This year, there is an important chance to reassess the strength of India’s bond with the UK and show the world that India is a bridge-building nation.

It is just over a year until the UK reaches its Article 50 deadline and leaves the European Union (EU). UK economic growth is beating all forecasts and UK manufacturing has never had a higher output than it did at the tail end of 2017. This will come as a relief to policy-makers, as Brexit’s biggest mountains are still to be tackled.

When UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivered the first of a number of Brexit speeches from senior Cabinet figures last month, he put forward his vision of Brexit liberating the UK to create its own trade rules and expand into new markets where the EU has previously “held it back”.

Boris’ ‘Liberal Brexit’ outline may not have raised the stakes since Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech in January 2017, where the British Prime Minister asserted the need to honour the referendum result by making a clear break from the EU, the Customs Union and the Single Market. But he has put pressure on the Prime Minister to make her position clearer, for the benefit of all of those around the world with business interests in the UK, who want to keep up to speed on the negotiations.

Averting a cliff-edge

The EU27 nations are, as a bloc, headed to be one of the top four major economies, joining China, the US and India, in a decade’s time. India’s ties with Europe are strong and will grow even more valuable. How will the UK figure in all of this?

The EU27 are concerned that the UK could aim to undercut the EU by drastically shedding environmental, labour, and trading regulations in order to trade more with other nations.

However, the likelihood is that there will be some regulatory alignment on goods. This will go some way to alleviating the problem of a hard land border at Northern Ireland, and will reduce the threat of trade tariffs being levied and non-tariff barriers being imposed at vital trade ports.

Whether the UK strikes such a deal or not, the uplift of global growth will provide the UK with a cushion on which to land as it steps off the Brexit cliff. And Brexit will allow the UK to set its own tariffs on trade in services, the area where the EU-India free trade agreement (FTA) failed. There is a long way to go before all barriers to UK-India free trade are overcome and we need to determine the parameters soon.

Those who trade and invest in the UK will need reassurance that the UK will remain open and welcoming to the labour force and talent that it needs. A rapid reversal of EU migration to the UK would bring a cloud over a number of fast-growing sectors. New entrants are needed in the tech sector, manufacturing and engineering, and across the board in cities like London.

Mobility of professionals

The UK still has a tiered visa system and the number of applicants still hits the cap, month after month, showing there is no shortage of applicants for skilled work. Nasscom estimates that there are about 30,000 Indians working under the Tier 2 visa regime – in every sector from technology to food – but there is clearly scope to increase the freedom of movement between the UK and India after Brexit.

What is clear is that such initiatives to create closer ties between the UK and India are just as important as the Brexit negotiations, which will reach a crunch point this Summer. The two discussions need to happen in parallel.

UK-India Week

The fifth annual UK-India Leadership Conclave will take place during UK-India Week this year, a showcase of all that we stand to gain by making the best of the UK-India partnership.

After Brexit, the UK will have a new place on the world stage, but its old partners will be even more important. We will have a vital chance to radically renew the UK-India bond, but businesses, the diaspora and policy powerhouses will all need to be involved for us to build lasting ties.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

#April 2017, #UK/Europe, #Special Edition – May 2017, #COMMONWEALTH, #INDIA-UK, #December 2017

A London-based policy expert weighs up the challenges and opportunities thrown up by Brexit to strike a stronger India-UK dynamic.

Talk of Brexit is never far from the headlines in the UK press. Theresa May triggering Article 50 signaled the start of the process. This presents significant challenges and opportunities for Commonwealth countries, with India being a prime example.

New research from my organisation, the Royal Commonwealth Society, reveals an overwhelming majority of British businesses want to see the Government prioritise trade deals with the Commonwealth. It is significant that nearly three quarters of all UK businesses want an Indian trade deal.

#UK/EU, #INDIA-UK, #August 2017, #December 2017

Abhishek Lodha is the Managing Director of the Lodha Group, a Mumbai-headquartered developer which made its global foray with high-profile projects in the UK. ‘India Global Business’ caught up with him to get an update on this international vision, plans for the group’s luxury London developments and the Brexit effect on the property market.

What was the motivation behind the Lodha Group’s expansion to the UK?

We started in London in December 2013, early 2014 and the idea was to establish a business which builds on our success and learnings in India and allows us to operate as an Indian multinational by operating in one of the most competitive, most expensive as well as the highest quality markets in the world.

Over the last three years, we are developing two of London’s most prestigious developments – No. 1 Grosvenor Square, which was the Canadian High Commission and before that the American Embassy, and Lincoln Square, which is just off London School of Economics next to the Royal Courts of Justice. What we are trying to do is truly world-class quality. We have put in a lot of effort and money into the design, into the marketing content, brought in the best names from across the UK as well as internationally.

#February 2017, #Hotspot, #INDIA-EU, #December 2017

With Brexit around the corner, one of Britain’s neighbours is making a play for Indian investments as a member of the European Union (EU).

Ireland has a strong proposition for any company choosing to do business in Europe. A part of the European Union (EU), the country’s impressive offering includes large and small companies, MNCs and indigenous companies, universities and research institutes in the technology, ICT, life-sciences, financial services and advanced manufacturing sectors.

#UK/EU, #August 2017

The number of Indian-built models registered by British buyers rose by almost half (48.6 per cent) to 21,135 units in the first half of this year alone.

UK car production fell by -13.7 per cent in June, with 136,901 cars rolling off production lines, according to recent figures released by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The third consecutive month of decline, following changes in production schedules for new model introductions, resulted in a -2.9 per cent year to date dip in output, triggering alarm bells over the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).

#INDIA-UK, #December 2017

A series of green bond listings on the London Stock Exchange to raise funds for Indian infrastructure projects dominated the bilateral relationship in recent months.

India, UK to ink pact in urban transport sector

India and the UK will sign a pact soon for cooperation in policy planning, technology transfer and institutional organisation in the urban transport sector.

India’s Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, met UK’s Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in London recently and discussed a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.

The draft MoU seeks to facilitate cooperation in the transport sector and enable the sharing of expertise and latest technology to promote efficient mobility solutions. The statement said it is also expected to usher in policy reforms that can transform the transport sector through improved customer service/data analysis and better use of IT systems.

The pact will also help in promoting digital transactions and induction of high capacity diesel/electric vehicles in India, it said adding, this MoU will also establish the terms on which such assistance can be provided.

During his visit to London, Gadkari addressed a session of the International Maritime Organisation.

He also addressed Indian business leaders in UK, urging them to cooperate in the Namami Gange project of the government.

#October 2017, #More from this edition

A brief chronicle of the country’s inventions and ideas that have been pivotal in shaping the world come to life as part of the UK-India Year of Culture.

Some of the most important ideas in the history of science, technology, mathematics and engineering find their roots in India. Thanks to the influence that Indian scientific thought had on the civilisations with which it made contact, those ideas and inventions spread throughout the world.

#INDIA-UK, #Special Edition – May 2017

As many as 800 Indian companies in the UK generated £47.5 billion in combined revenues in 2016 and contributed significantly to Brexit-bound UK’s economic growth outlook, a new report reveals.

The ‘India meets Britain Tracker 2017’, released annually by professional services major Grant Thornton in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), has found that Indian companies employ around 110,000 employees in the UK and last year had a combined capital expenditure of £4.25 billion.

#INDIA-UK, #Special Edition – May 2017

Britain’s minister in charge of international trade makes the case for an open global trading order with the Commonwealth as its cornerstone.

I hosted the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ Meeting, an event that brought together politicians, officials and policymakers from over twenty Commonwealth nations.

It is a testament to the strength of the Commonwealth that so many of its countries were represented at this landmark meeting, during which we discussed the opportunities for trade, investment, and enhanced friendship that lie ahead.

#Putting it in context, #Special Edition – May 2017

Our cover story this time is aptly titled ‘Yeh Dosti’. Indian readers will be familiar with the eponymous song from the iconic Bollywood blockbuster ‘Sholay’, which, even 42 years after its release, remains synonymous with undying friendship and renewal of relationships.

To dwell a little further on the renewal analogy, here in the UK, we have the custom of spring cleaning, where in anticipation of sunny times, and coming out of the winter months, we clear out the clutter and put our house in order.

The tide of history has brought India and the UK to such a turn in the road. Coincidentally, PM Narendra Modi’s vision of embracing globalisation to expand India’s economy and realise its ambitions of taking its rightful place at the global high table has some resonance with PM Theresa May’s ambition of a post-Brexit “Global Britain”.

There are, or will emerge, vast areas of synergies the two countries can exploit for mutual benefit as well as for the greatest common good of all humanity. Or, in Narendra Modi’s language: “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.

But it will not be a straight and easy road. The challenge is to prevent the relationship from becoming transactional. There will always be the clear and present danger that we may have become too comfortable, and mistakenly assume that cultural affinity and a centuries-old bond will survive the ravages of a rapidly churning world order.

India and the UK need to re-imagine the relationship, re-calibrate the scales by which we judge proximity and warmth and do it fast.

Trade is the obvious area of synergy. India is the third-largest source of FDI into the UK and the UK is the largest G20 investor in India. Despite this, UK trades more with Sweden, which has a GDP that’s just about a fourth of India’s, than with India.

We can obviously do better. And, despite my view that the UK should have remained in the EU, Brexit could just offer that opportunity.

A renewed relationship also means May’s government must show greater empathy for Indian demands for concessions on immigration, as higher education for its youth and free movement of its professionals are key to keeping the wheels of its services-dependent economy greased. At the same time, India must accept the compulsions of Her Majesty’s government to respect the Brexit sentiment, which was, in essence, a vote against untrammelled immigration.

But movement has been slow. For instance, several months ago Britain’s international trade minister, Dr Liam Fox, announced a working group to start pencilling in the contours of a new post-Brexit trade and investment relationship with India. This is a welcome step forward. But we must avoid bureaucratic fudges. Its work must be open, transparent, and allow a wide cross-section of stakeholders to engage in a meaningful manner.

Modi has called the Indian diaspora in the UK the “living bridge” between the two countries and has actively sought to engage them in the process of bilateral cooperation. But does the DTI or British High Commission in India have a strategy for diaspora engagement?

Taking a leaf from Modi’s book, May’s government, too, can reach out to this living bridge – and the ongoing India-UK Year of Culture presents just the right platform.

My fabulous team has made a small beginning by recognising and celebrating the achievements of such people with the India Inc. curated ‘UK India 100’ list of most influential people.

The potential is there for all to see. The tide is right and if May and Modi can take it at the flood, it can lead on to a great future for both countries.

History is replete with examples of individual leaders transcending their situations to lead their countries to ever greater heights. In the UK and India alone, there are examples such as Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and, potentially, Modi himself.

Can he and May move to the melody of ‘Yeh Dosti’? If they do, they will have re-written the future of UK-India ties in golden letters.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa