Corporate big-wigs from top companies in India and the UK on Tuesday had a brain storming session on intensifying cooperation between the two countries. The British side identified infrastructure, education, defence, energy and retail as focus areas. The India-UK CEO’s Forum led by Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and Standard Chartered chief Peter Sands met here to take stock of the current business ties and give proposals to the two governments on how they could be strengthened. “The CEO’s Forum has made focused, specific, and practical recommendations to enhance partnership between India and UK focusing on trade, institutional linkages in education for research and development and also defence. We will be taking forward its recommendations,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said.
Other British participants in the forum included Simon Collins from KPMG, Ian Taylor from construction company Balfour Beatty and Mark Walport from charity trust Wellcome. Indian participants included Adi Godrej from Godrej Group, Sunil Mittal from Bharti Enterprises, Y.C. Deveshwar from ITC and Chanda Kochhar from ICICI Bank. The UK is India’s third largest trading partner within the EU and the sixteenth largest in the world. “The British side has shown keen interest to work with India for establishing national manufacturing and industrial zones,” Sharma said. Two of these investment regions will come along the proposed Bangalore-Mumbai Industrial Corridor which will link up with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. “We hope that the experience in advanced manufacturing and the technologies that Britain has in diverse sectors, including nanotechnology, aerospace, biotechnology, and life sciences, would be used,” the Minister added. The CEOs also discussed other areas including education, energy, defence and the retail sector. “One important sector which I did not mention earlier is energy sector. Those are decisions that would be made (in the energy sector),” Sharma said. A number of British companies in the energy sector including British Petroleum, Cairn and Powergen have made investments in India.
On retail, the Minister said that British companies were interested in entering the segment and while the CEO’s Forum was not a forum to make business propositions, he had fruitful meetings during his recent UK visit. India liberalised foreign direct investment in the retail sector, both single-brand and multi-brand, recently. “When I was in Davos, and recently in London, the Chairman of Tesco had met me which was followed by a meeting with the CEO. We hope that there would be proposals, but these will be their decisions,” he said. The UK-India CEO’s Forum was established two years ago and brings together businesses in both countries.
-Hindu Business Line