PM Modi’s visit renews India-UK strategic ties

Prime Minister’s state visit, at the invitation of UK PM Theresa May, has reinforced India’s partnership with the UK at a time when the UK is in the process of exiting the European Union and is willing to review all its existing partnerships from an independent viewpoint

April 20, 2018

India and the UK have shared a strong and historic alliance, which was upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2004; The bilateral ties have received a fresh impetus with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day state visit to the UK starting April 18

PM Modi’s meeting with PM May focussed on establishing partnership in technology; trade, investment and finance; defence, cyber security and counterterrorism; education and people-to-people connections; along with partnership in global leadership

Under technology partnership, there were discussion on setting up an India-UK Tech Hub in India which will bring together industry leaders for collaborations on future mobility solutions, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence (AI) enabled healthcare

PM Modi raised the issue of greater mobility for Indian professionals to the UK, given their vast contribution to the British economy; Incidentally, Indian companies are UK’s second largest job creators and the Indian diaspora contribute around 6 per cent of the UK’s GDP

India and the UK have shared a strong and historic alliance, which was upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2004. The relationship has been further over the past years with increased government to government interactions, trade and investment activities as well as people to people exchanges. The bilateral ties have now received a fresh impetus with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day state visit to the UK starting April 18. The bilateral visit, at the invitation of Prime Minister Theresa May, has reinforced India’s partnership with the UK at a time when the UK is in the process of exiting the European Union and is willing to review all its existing partnerships from an independent viewpoint. During the visit, PM Modi’s meeting with PM May focussed on establishing partnership in technology; trade, investment and finance; defence, cyber security and counterterrorism; education and people-to-people connections; along with a commitment to provide responsible global leadership. In all, 26 agreements were signed by both sides in these areas.

A joint statement issued after the meeting stated: “We are committed to making this a strategic partnership, that spans the globe and the century, seeing our special relationship evolve and improve in the coming years. We encourage our business, cultural and intellectual leaders to exploit the millions of interactions that already link India and the UK, from family to finance, business to Bollywood, sport to science – so that millions more British and Indians exchange and learn, travel, trade and thrive together.”

New partnerships to strengthen ties

As part of the technology partnership, there were discussion on setting up an India-UK Tech Hub in India which will bring together industry leaders for collaborations on future mobility solutions, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence (AI) enabled healthcare. An India-UK Tech CEO Alliance was also announced and an agreement signed between the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) and techUK on skills and new technologies, including industry-led apprentice programmes. The two nations have a long, shared and growing history in trade, investment and finances. At the meeting between the PMs, both sides agreed to begin negotiations for an India-UK free trade agreement, with PM Modi adding that it should be a balanced agreement with mutual benefits. Specifically, he raised the issue of greater and easier mobility for Indian professionals to the UK, given their vast contribution to the British economy. Incidentally, Indian companies are UK’s second largest job creators among all foreign investors in the nation.

PM Modi’s UK visit included wide-ranging and constructive discussions on multilateral issues. During his stay, PM Modi participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London over April 19-20

The two nations launched a new green growth equity fund, to be managed by Eversource Capital, which is a joint venture between London-based Lightsource BP and India-based Everstone Group. The two governments will initially invest £120 million each in the fund, which can then be catalysed to access further funds from institutions in London. The fund will invest in renewable energy, clean transportation, water and waste management, as part of initiatives undertaken by India’s flagship National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). Both countries have also agreed to launch a dialogue on investment to better understand each other’s national priorities, to fast track mechanism to foster Indian investments in the UK, a fintech dialogue for policy coordination and a commitment to ensure that the India-EU agreements apply to UK during its transition period. Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to provide global leadership in fight against climate change. As part of a joint pledge to promote affordable and sustainable energy supplies, the UK became the 62nd country to join the International Solar Alliance after it signed the framework agreement.

India, UK to tackle global challenges

During PM Modi’s visit trip, an agreement was signed between the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), India, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK, for sustainable management of water resources in the Ganges Basin through joint research, innovation and exchange of experts, with the support of the UK Water Partnership. Similarly, NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Government of India, has signed a statement of intent with the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to jointly explore potential for technology cooperation in areas such as electric vehicles, AI, fintech, advanced manufacturing, as well as utilizing AI, big data and analytics capability for evidence-based policy making. The depth of the India-UK relationship can be gauged from the fact that an institutional framework guides all bilateral cooperation on economic and commerce matters—the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee, Economic and Financial Dialogue and India-UK Financial Partnership.

PM Modi’s UK visit also included wide-ranging and constructive discussions on multilateral issues. During his stay, PM Modi participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London over April 19-20. The UK and India aim to work closely together and with other Commonwealth member states to address shared and global challenges. India is among the UK’s main trading partners with total merchandise trade between the two countries touching US$12.2 billion during 2016-17. According to data sheet and bilateral brief maintained by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the UK is India’s 4th largest investor, after Mauritius, Singapore and Japan with a cumulative equity investment of US$25.3 billion (April 2000 – December 2017), accounting for around 7 per cent of all foreign direct investment into India. Meanwhile, India is the UK’s third largest investor, with Indian companies creating over 110,000 jobs in the country. The Indian Diaspora in the UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, totalling about 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK equating to nearly 1.8 per cent of the population and contributing 6 per cent of the country’s GDP.

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