Strength of India relations won’t change under a new UK PM

Strength of India relations won’t change under a new UK PM

Chris Hayward took charge as Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation in May this year. In the role, he leads the financial hub of the UK capital’s work on policy issues affecting the City’s financial and related professional services sector as well as the Square Mile’s ongoing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a professional who has led business interests in India in the past, it is a familiar market to him. Here, he reflects upon his first visit to Mumbai in the new City Corporation role this week, the strength of UK-India economic and trade relations and how they would remain unaffected with the looming leadership change at the heart of UK government.

Q

Please share your reflections on the developments triggered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.

A

It is of concern to all of us in the United Kingdom but at the same time, we in the City of London have relationships with ministers across the board. What we look for on the back of this change of Prime Minister is continuity and stability in our relationships with government ministers.

We hope for a smooth transition with the new ministers that are coming in with the new leader, who will be chosen over the summer by the Conservative Party. Meanwhile, in the City of London there will be a sense of business as usual.

In terms of our relationship with India, that doesn't change anything. It will be as strong and this won't change anything at all. So, we look for stability and continuity of all our policies in the City of London and hope that the transition will be swift and effective.

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Q

What are the key focus areas for your visit to Mumbai this week?

A

It’s about me having a series of high-level meetings with Indian businesses and above all, around the theme of investment, sustainable investment.

The key themes I am looking at over the next five years that I'm the de facto political leader of the City of London Corporation and my priorities in terms of the relationship with India are around three key areas.

Firstly, around the area of infrastructure, which I think is a big area for India. So, the focus would be on how we can ensure a step change into sustainable global investment into India's transition and to match India's net zero ambitions. I think it's fair to say that we welcome India's commitment to a 2070 net zero commitment. However, we hope that we can help them to accelerate that time scale. And, it would be great to see if we could help India to continue to accelerate its aspirations.

Second is around regulation; ensuring that our systems are inter-operable and the capital can flow both ways. So that's another key area that I'd like to focus on in the next five years.

The third and final one is investment. For us it's about how the financial professional services sector can be supported by some actions, not just one way but both ways, including through to the development of India's capital markets.

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Q

How do you see the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations panning out?

A

The FTA, which is of course being negotiated at the present time, we hope will reach fruition in in October.

We hope that there will be some inclusion for the financial and professional services sector within the free trade agreement. We wait to see what comes out of that. We are keen to support and see that FTA concluded in good time.

One of the factors that also interests me is the fact that Indian companies that invest in the United Kingdom support no less than 95,000 jobs in the United Kingdom. So, there is for us a real interest there on the jobs market and on the skills market around that Indian investment. It's really hugely supportive of our economy in terms of jobs.

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