Well, thank you very much, and welcome, everyone, to Number 10 Downing Street. A particular welcome to Peter and Ratan, who are going to take this CEO Forum ahead.
I think this is fantastically important. I’ve always believed that the India-Britain relationship is strong but could be much, much stronger. I think it was one of the first major visits I made as Leader of the Opposition, one of the first major visits I made as Prime Minister, taking a huge number of ministers and businesses and cultural institutions and, I think, getting the relationship off to a good start. Let me stress once again although the ties of history and language and culture and the past are important, actually, I think this is an extremely modern, dynamic, forward-looking relationship of two countries with very complementary interests and complementary economies and I think you see that all over.
Obviously, for Britain, we want to link ourselves up to the fastest growing parts of the world and India is clearly one of them, but the complementarily between our economies - take our universities, where we have a fantastic university sector and India has some extraordinarily great institutions that we want to partner with. The issue of green growth, where there are enormous needs in India and great expertise, we also believe we have expertise and also a great ability to raise capital. It’s not actually the old cliche of some of our relationships where people think there’s a new manufacturing economy in the East and an old banking and services economy in the West. Actually, it’s much more complementary and smarter than that. Actually, Indian investment is re-enlivening some of our manufacturing industries here in the UK and British investment in India is adding to your fantastic service sector, so it’s a much more complex situation.
Obviously, Britain is one of the most open economies in the world, one of the easiest places to come and invest, to come and do business, to come and own a business, to come and raise capital and we want to make it even more open, even more welcoming. I think one of the things we can discuss today is the great opening up of the Indian economy, but how can we take that further into new sectors and to new business areas and how can Prime Minister Singh and I help, with you, to advance this agenda.
I had three things I was hoping we could touch on in the session I’m with you today.
The first is that - how do we open up the UK economy and make it even more favourable to Indian inward investment? There have been years when Indian investment into Britain has been higher than that of Japan, so the relationship is very good, but how do we take it even further?
The second question is this issue of how we further open the Indian economy. I think it’s obviously had a fantastic growth record. There’s big inward investment in terms of infrastructure, in terms of manufacturing - I remember visiting the JCB plant - but what about services, what about banking, what about retail, how do we take that forward?
The third issue I wanted to touch on is very time-critical, which is in terms of encouraging not just bilateral trade, but in terms of encouraging what I think is both in India’s interest and Britain’s interest; we want an advance in terms of the world trade system. While many people assume that the Doha Trade Round is somehow a dead parrot and politicians get together and talk about it but it’s not actually going to happen, I believe there is actually a last chance this year, 2011. At the G20, President Obama and I and others agreed we needed to make the deal a bit bigger to make it have more benefits to more people and I think there are signs that the Chinese and the Americans are now negotiating genuinely to try and make that happen and if that happens I think Obama would take a deal to Congress and I think that Britain and India, as two countries that I think would benefit from the completion of the Doha round. I hope that the message can be sent from the business community to the politicians ‘get on and make this deal’. I think that’s vitally important in the US, where we need to build an alliance for more trade, more openness, but I’m sure it’s also true in India as well, where a message from business to the Indian government about the desirability of a bigger, bolder Doha Trade Round - 80% of it is already done, it’s just the last bits. But I think that the agenda we’re all passionate about is expanding trade, investment, making sure our economies are growing and we’re getting good jobs for all our people, cannot but be helped by an increase in world trade.
So those are the three issues I’m keen that we try and address today, but really this is for me to listen to what the CEOs are saying about what needs to change in Britain to make us more attractive and what needs to change in India to increase the flows of investment both ways and that’s what I hope we’ll use the time for and then Prime Minister Singh and I can discuss and take forward these agendas.