Central & South Asia

Cameron kicks off India visit with trade push

British PM brings one of largest business delgations with an eye on India's growth potential.
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2013 21:29
Cameron's delegation includes representatives of more than 100 British companies [AFP]
David Cameron, the British prime minister, currently on an official visit to India, has announced that his country will issue same day visas to Indian businessmen willing to invest in the United Kingdom.

Cameron made the statement at a meeting hosted by India industrialists and businessmen in Mumbai on Monday.
"We want you to come to our country quickly, to invest in our country and to support our country," Cameron said.
India should open up its markets to allow foreign direct investment in hitherto closed sectors, the UK prime minister said.

Cameron's India trip, his second as prime minister, comes days after a similar trade mission by French President Francois Hollande, underlining how Europe's debt-stricken states are competing to tap into one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Hollande secured a $12bn defence contract to sell French fighter jets to India on his visit to New Delhi last week.
Two months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin also visited India and signed an agreement to sell 71 military helicopters.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University and an expert on South Asia, said recent trips of European leaders to India reflect the country's "very substantial and sustained economic economic growth".

"As a consequence, a number of important international players see India as the burgeoning and potential market," Ganguly said, adding "They want to ensure that their countries, or their industries get a significant portion on the Indian pie."
British business delegation

Cameron's delegation, which includes representatives of more than 100 companies, is the biggest taken abroad by a British prime minister and includes four ministers and nine members of parliament.

The British leader also told his host country to open its economy because Britain had done the same for Indian firms.

For now, Britain's economy is the sixth largest in the world and India's the tenth. But India is forecast to overtake its old colonial master in the decades ahead.

Cameron also announced that his country would put no restriction on the number of Indian students choosing the United Kingdom for higher education.

"There is no limit to the number of Indian students to come and study at British Universities, as long as they have basic English qualification and a place at one of those universities," Cameron said. "I think it is a very clear, very straight forward offer to the new generation of extremely bright and talented Indian students."

While in Mumbai, Cameron also paid tribute to the policemen who died in the terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

On Tuesday, Cameron will hold talks with Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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