Significant unrealised potential in UK-India trade: Ratan Tata

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H S Rao

London, Feb 4 (PTI) The UK-India trade and investmentrelationship has significant unrealised potential, given thesynergies possible between the two countries, Tata SonsChairman Ratan Tata has said.

Speaking at the first meeting of the India-UK CEO Forumyesterday at Number 10, Downing Street, Tata said: "The UK hasa special place in the hearts and minds of Indians and Indianindustry."

"However, I feel our trade and investment relationshiphas significant unrealised potential given the synergiespossible between the two countries -- such as what we couldachieve by leveraging the technology and manufacturingcapabilities in the UK, to serve the global market," he said.

Tata, who is also the co-chair of the forum, said hehoped the UK-India CEO Forum "is able to help build trade andinvestment between the two countries to a level approachingits potential and we intend to look at a range of sectors andideas on how this could be facilitated by government andindustry from both countries, working together."

Bilateral trade between India and the UK amounted to over11 billion pounds in 2009.

Last year, exports from the UK to India increased by 38per cent vis-a-vis the previous year, while 17 per cent ofIndia''s exports to the EU went to the UK.

There are around 700 Indian companies with investments inthe UK and the UK garners more than 50 per cent of Indianinvestment into Europe.

Companies such as the Tata Group, JCB, BAE, StandardChartered and Wipro already operate in both the UK and Indiaand are taking part in this initiative.

Addressing the forum, British Prime Minister DavidCameron said: "I''ve always believed that the India-Britainrelationship is strong, but could be much, much stronger."

"Britain is one of the most open economies in the world,one of the easiest places to come and invest, to come and dobusiness, to come and own a business, to come and raisecapital and we want to make it even more open, even morewelcoming," he said.

The British Prime Minister said: "This is for me tolisten to what the CEOs are saying about what needs to changein Britain to make us more attractive and what needs to changein India to increase the flows of investment both ways."

The forum launch was followed by a working lunch andfurther discussions at Lancaster House.

India''s Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, alsoparticipated in the forum, alongside UK Secretary of StateVince Cable and Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green. MOREPTI HSR ARV

Cable, who visited India for trade talks last month, said: "I warmly welcome this commitment from British andIndian business leaders in contributing to the India-UK CEOForum."

"With the personal and private sector expertise acrosskey sectors, this initiative will help firms of all sizesacross both our economies to tap into the huge opportunitiesin both the UK and India," he said.

Standard Chartered Group Chief Executive Peter Sandssaid: "India and the UK enjoy strong cultural, business andeconomic ties. They also share many complementary strengthsand similar challenges for the future. Both India and the UKwill benefit from greater trade and investment and broadeningand deepening their collaboration."

"The India-UK CEO Forum has an important role in makingthis happen. Given the strength of the CEOs involved and thestrong support of both governments, I am excited about whatthe forum can achieve," he added.

Senior business representatives from leading British andIndian companies attended the meeting.

The forum was agreed on by Cameron and his Indiancounterpart, Manmohan Singh, last July, when the Britishleader led the largest-ever British government delegation toIndia.

Members of the forum include the CEOs of UK-basedStandard Chartered (Co-chair), 3i, BAE Systems, BalfourBeatty, JCB, KPMG, Penguin (Pearson), Rolls Royce Plc,Vodafone Group Plc, Wellcome Trust, besides India''s Tata Sons(Co-Chair), Aditya Birla Group, Bharti Enterprises, GodrejGroup, Hindustan Unilever Limited, ICICI Bank, ITC Limited,Mahindra

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