The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) launched its first-ever business delegation to India this week, aimed at putting the promise of a free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated by both sides into action.
The industry body, which speaks on behalf of 190,000 UK businesses of all sizes and sectors, is leading 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.
Greg Hands, UK Minister for Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade (DIT), said: “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.
“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.”
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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 £28 billion a year by 2035 and increase wages across the UK by £3 billion. The trade delegation is aimed at bringing together UK business and key senior stakeholders from the British High Commission in Delhi and the government of India to discuss growth opportunities in the Indian market.
Syma Cullasy-Aldridge, CBI Chief Campaigns Director, who is leading the India delegation, said: “With a 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.
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“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.”
The CBI said the visit aims to share knowledge on how to scale up unicorns to address ways to increase trade in green goods and services between the two countries and contribute to net zero ambitions. On the delegation agenda is development of sustainable infrastructure, access to sustainable finance and navigating any trade barriers related to the sector in the country.