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Despite the COVID-19 crisis scuppering the UK prime minister's planned visit to India this April, Boris Johnson and India's prime minister Narendra Modi are determined to keep discussions on track. 'Roadmap 2030' will see the two countries agree on re-energised India-UK relations in investment, trade, technology and security.

Previous False Starts in Relations

After years of false starts, including state visits from David Cameron (2010 and 2013) and Theresa May (2017), the two nations seem to be taking each other seriously, bringing the hope of a robust economic alliance.

For India, the UK's reluctance to allow access to student visas proved a stumbling block in relations that were further thawed by Britians perceived softness on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and London's intentions to make China a crucial part of their post-Brexit strategies.

A New Hope

However, these perceptions have been altered as Britain has gotten tougher on both Pakistan and China and changed its post-study work rule for international students.

All of this has laid the foundation for a potentially productive relationship between the two countries.

For UK businesses, India presents a significant opportunity. India has a population of 1.3bn, ten per cent of whom are English speaking. With the incredible potential for further financial growth, this is precisely the type of opportunity the UK needs to make the economy a success post-Brexit.

Currently, trade between the two countries has plenty of room to grow: India is only the UK's 6th biggest non-EU trading partner. Indeed, with India set to loosen its protectionist policies, including increasing foreign stakeholder allowance from 49pc to 74 per cent, this represents exciting news for the UK's biggest export: professional and financial services.

As detailed in the Telegraph, the UK's ailing Food & Beverages market can significantly benefit India's vast appetite for Scotch whisky. Exports have tripled over the last twelve years, and reducing the 150% tariff will surely be a point of conversation amongst negotiators.

Additionally, India's transformation into a developed economy means banking, fintech, and education are all sectors that would greatly benefit from close international alignment.

A Positive, Mutually Beneficial Future

As the UK positions its economy post-Brexit, the relationship with a blooming liberal democracy and economic powerhouse is vital. With India a big part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and two of the biggest names in Boris Johnson's cabinet (Rishi Sunak and Pritti Patel) being of Indian heritage, now could present a golden opportunity for both countries to cement beneficial ties in trade and diplomacy.

Alpesh Patel OBE President The India League

Views are personal

Growing UK India Relations: News
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