Vincent Keaveny, the 693rd Lord Mayor of London who represents the financial hub of the UK capital, has just returned from a fruitful visit to India. Besides meetings with leading Indian businesses and finance chiefs at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), he also addressed the Global Fintech Festival in Mumbai last week before heading to Bengaluru for visits businesses within the UK-India corridor.
Here, he gives an overview of the visit, the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between India and the UK and the financial cooperation between London and India.
What were some of the highlights of your visit?
It was a really good time to be in India with the FTA negotiations entering into their final phase. Prime Minister Modi has made it clear that he wants to sign the FTA by Diwali.
There are some outstanding issues to be resolved but I think there’s a lot of optimism on both sides that we will get that done.
Whatever the content of the agreement, it will be a real positive for the relationship between India and the UK across the board in the coming years. We hope for a real strong agreement around services and mobility – the upside is very considerable.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Do you see the Diwali timeline being met, given a change in leadership in the UK since it was set?
It is a tight deadline but there is optimism. Both sides are looking at proposals of the other side and there are number of issues – mobility, investment, digital, services – they are all there on the table. There is a lot of work to do in the next three or four weeks to get a resolution across all of these topics, but there is sense of optimism that can be done. Prime Minister Modi has indicated that he would like to meet that deadline.
Prime Minister Liz Truss is deeply engaged in the international trades, she’s served as trade secretary and had a trade focus to her time as foreign secretary. International trade issues are something on which she is very well versed. So, we have a Prime Minister very conscious of trade issues and will be well placed to take this to the final leg.
What more can UK and India be working on in the finance sphere?
Something we have been advocating for a period of time now is to allow Indian companies to list their shares directly on the international stock exchanges. The current arrangements are not as efficient they could be.
Proposals to allow that to happen are currently on hold. We continue to advocate for that to happen. I think it will be beneficial to Indian corporates and the Indian corporate community to tell its story much more directly in the international markets.
MORE LIKE THIS…
What role would sustainable finance play in the relationship?
I had very positive engagements with the RBI and SEBI on sustainable finance. We have heard from a number of Indian financial institutions that they look to London as the global thought leader on green and sustainable finance. It is one area where we have tremendous opportunity to work together.
India has a very large infrastructure investment requirement, running into trillions of dollars. There is an opportunity here, which we in the City of London would be keen support – to bring the capital that is there in the international markets into projects in India that need that capital for investment in infrastructure. That is a tremendous opportunity.
The scope for investment in sustainable infrastructure in India is enormous and there is great international interest in investing in that.
We already have the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative (CFLI), co-chaired by Macquarie and Tata Group, in place to bring together projects and capital – bridging the gaps.