India has not revealed its official position on the UK's referendum to stay in or leave the European Union (EU) due to be held on June 23. While Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said the matter was Britain's own, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said the agreements inked in trade and investment and science and technology between the two countries would go on as usual irrespective of a possible Brexit. [Explained: UK referendum 2016]
Now, will India benefit if the UK pulls out of the EU or will it be otherwise?
The opinion is divided. While some say the bilateral trade between India and UK will improve in the absence of EU rules, others feel apprehensive about the work and education visas and also the future of Indian companies in the UK. [Will UK teams' performance in Euro affect June 23 referendum?]
Here, we list some pros and cons of a possible Brexit for India:
- In the absence of EU regulations, the UK will be free to do more business with India and reach out to its booming middle class.
- The mango export from India to the UK will find a boost since high resulatory laws of the EU will not be in effect anymore. In 2014, mango export from India faced an EU-led ban after flies were found in the consignments and the exporters of the fruit in India faced much losses till the ban was lifted in 2015. If the UK goes out of the EU, this challenge will persist no more.
- Strict EU immigration rules also take a toll on the massive curry industry in the UK as the caterers' bodies of the east fail to get qualified chefs. The Asian Catering Federation is experiencing this problem though it thinks leaving the EU is not a solution for that.
- A research by the State Bank of India says India's position will be stronger if Brexit indeed happens.
- The future of a strong diaspora of Indian-origin UK citizens and also that of those who visit the UK as students, professionals, tourists, businessmen or just plain relatives. Could there be a strict visa regime in the post-Brexit period?
- The phenomenal growth story of the Indian industries (800 of them and the largest in one European country) could be affected if Brexit happens. The Indian industries generate an impressive number of employment and those in sectors like technology, telecom, financial services and pharmaceuticals are growing at a big rate, as per India Tracker 2016.
The likes of Bharti Airtel, HCL Technologies and Tata Group are doing exceedingly well in the UK. India Tracker suggests that a potential Brexit could be a "pressing concern". Will investment in the UK take a beating if Brexit happens?
- Restriction on immigration if Brexit happens could have a big impact on students and professionals who aim to travel to the UK. According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, the number of Indian students studying in universities in UK have fallen from over 22,000 to 18,000-plus following the withdrawal of the post-study work visa and the situation could worsen if Brexit happens.
Britain's treating overseas students as immigrants is something debated upon often and if more restrictions are imposed on entering that country, then it could influence the people-to-people contact, something which has continued between India and the UK over centuries.