2013 marked by positive momentum in UK-India ties

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London, Dec 23: The year 2013 saw positive momentum in India-UK ties with Prime Minister David Cameron leading not one but two delegations to India within months to strengthen bilateral relations though actions like a visa bond scheme conflicted with these initiatives.

Cameron's message while leading the biggest-ever trade mission to India in February was loud and clear: "India is going to be one of the leading nations in this century and we want to be your partners, and that's why I am here today."

In a joint statement issued during the visit, both the countries agreed that while substantial progress had been made, there was considerable potential for further expanding the relationship, particularly in trade and investment. As if to stress the point even further, Cameron made another whirlwind stop in November on his way to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka.

"India is going to be one of the leading nations in this century", UK PM said.

According to official data, two-way trade during 2012-13 was USD 15.19 billion, showing a decline of about 6.78 per cent over the previous year. UK is India's 3rd largest FDI investor. Top sectors attracting FDI from UK are petroleum, ports, services, roads and highways, computer software. India is the fifth largest investor in UK.

There are around 700 Indian companies in the UK of which Tata is the largest private sector employer in the UK. However, some of the government's actions conflicted with overall positive initiatives, such as the announcement of the controversial visa bond scheme for visitors from six countries, including India. The plan to charge a whopping 3,000 pounds from tourists was eventually scrapped after widespread criticism of the mixed messages it was sending out.

The birth of the royal baby was another big news for Britain this year. The world's media had their lenses and pens poised as they awaited the arrival of Prince William and Kate Middleton's baby boy, now the third in line to the British throne. Baby George's christening ceremony in October capped the excitement round the royal birth, announced on the traditional easel of Buckingham Palace by Kolkata-born royal footman Badar Azim.


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