Alderman Nicholas Lyons is the 694th Lord Mayor of London, representing the financial hub of the City of London globally. During a recent visit to Mumbai and New Delhi, he was focussed on two-way investment flow opportunities and financial collaborations between the UK capital and India.
Here, the Lord Mayor delves into some of the focus areas during his visit, the prospect of closer London-India ties and the key role fintech plays in the dynamic.
What are your highlights within the London-India partnership?
I think there are really substantial opportunities for investment actually, in both directions. The UK does have some leadership in thought around the green and clean tech space. And obviously, this is a very important issue in India as it transitions from its high dependency on fossil fuels over time to cleaner energy.
These global problems require global solutions. So, I think it's important that we all come together to provide whatever expertise or financing is available to help solve these problems. There is a real role for the UK to play its part in thought leadership around the just energy transition, which is important not only for helping countries with high fossil fuel dependencies, but also those countries and particularly Southern Hemisphere countries, which are going to be suffering most from climate change.
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What are the particular sectors of focus during the India visit?
There are very broad areas of interest between the UK and India, across a whole range of sectors. We are always keen to understand how countries are directing their own commercial policies around their alliances. The technological side of things, particularly fintech has very good opportunities.
Clearly there are substantial relationships between some legacy financial services businesses in the UK and some of the outsource partners, the consultancy services that are provided already in India in very large numbers. Besides, there are some interesting conversations around clean tech because the UK is very entrepreneurial in these areas.
The UK has four of the top 10 universities in the world, seven of the top 20 universities in the world. So, there is a strong emphasis on science and technology in the UK. And we are always very keen to see what others are doing and find opportunities to work together.
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How do you see the ongoing UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) talks shaping up?
My role as Lord Mayor of the City of London is really around financial and professional services. While we don't get directly involved in the FTA negotiations, it is fair to say that in the aftermath of Brexit and the fact that we are now sort of turning a page on a new relationship with Europe, our engagement with some of our most important allies and trading partners is entering a new phase.
And, of course, India is very much one of those partners. So normally, on the free trade agreement side, the City of London would have a particular interest in three areas – one is investment, the second is in digital, and the third is legal services.