The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which speaks on behalf of 190,000 UK businesses of all sizes and sectors, began a three-day visit covering Mumbai and New Delhi with some of the biggest names from British and Indian industries including HSBC, ICICI Bank, fintech firm Tide and wine and spirits major Pernod Ricard.
By: Mohnish Singh
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has sent its first-ever business delegation to India on Monday aimed at unlocking opportunities from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) being negotiated between London and New Delhi.
The industry body, which speaks on behalf of 190,000 UK businesses of all sizes and sectors, began a three-day visit covering Mumbai and New Delhi with some of the biggest names from British and Indian industries including HSBC, ICICI Bank, fintech firm Tide and wine and spirits major Pernod Ricard.
The CBI said the delegation will focus on key growth sectors where UK and Indian business can develop profitable partnerships, such as innovation and sustainability.
“The UK-India relationship is going from strength to strength, so it is fantastic that the CBI is sending its first-ever business delegation to India,” said Greg Hands, UK Minister for Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade (DIT).
“India is on track to become the third largest economy with a quarter of a billion middle-class consumers by 2050 – so the free trade deal we’re negotiating with them could unlock huge benefits for UK firms,” he said.
This visit comes against the backdrop of the UK preparing to host the seventh round of FTA talks with India.
According to the CBI, the potential pact could boost trade with India by GBP 28 billion a year by 2035 and increase wages across the UK by GBP 3 billion.
The trade delegation is aimed at bringing together UK businesses and key senior stakeholders from the British High Commission in New Delhi and the government of India to discuss growth opportunities in the Indian market.
“With the free trade deal between the UK and India soon to be signed – and agreements such as the UK-India Young Professionals Mobility scheme already in place – now is the time for businesses to explore how to grasp the huge opportunities that India affords,” said Syma Cullasy-Aldridge, CBI Chief Campaigns Director, who is leading the India delegation.
“The CBI’s first-ever delegation to India will put the promise of an FTA into practice – helping businesses develop links with key stakeholders and supporting UK firms to go for growth around the world,” she said.
The CBI said the visit aims to share knowledge on how to scale up unicorns and address ways to increase trade in green goods and services between the two countries and contribute to net zero ambitions.
On the delegation’s agenda is the development of sustainable infrastructure, access to sustainable finance and navigating any trade barriers related to the sector in the country.
Gurjodhpal Singh, the CEO, Tide India, said: “Tide has had significant support from the Indian government’s ‘ease of doing business’ drive, and from a wide array of government stakeholders in India and the UK. We’re also now embedded in the country’s fintech ecosystem and its financial services industry.
“We are excited to be part of the first CBI delegation from the UK to India, and applaud their efforts to support the government of India’s commitment towards creating an even easier and business-friendly environment in the country.” According to official UK government data, bilateral trade currently stands at around £29.6 billion a year, which is expected to receive a major boost with the FTA deal that both sides hope will be concluded this year.