UK and India, partners in finance

'I strongly believe in the great future that the UK and India can have working together', says Andrea Leadsom.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Andrea Leadsom

It is a pleasure to be here today in this great city.

This is an impressive city – full of history, variety and charm, but also highly geared towards the future.

It is the financial heart of India, a fact that attracts a huge number of people to come here and forge their futures. That, in turn, gives you vibrancy, a sense of purpose and optimism.

The impression I’ve received throughout my visit is that the motto of Prime Minister Modi – [‘Ache din aanne wale hai’] – ‘Good times are coming’ – has truly taken root.

And, simply put, the UK wants to be your leading partner as you build these good times.

In the UK, we have had our own experience of turning round an economy: the tough decisions and trade-offs that needed to be made, the dialogue with industry, and the focus on policies to deliver jobs and growth.

So we want to work with you as you establish your goals.

Our economic partnership is already very strong: we’re the biggest G20 investor in India; our bilateral trade is over £16 billion per year – over 1.5 trillion rupees – and rising; and over the past four years we’ve increased imports from India by a third.

Nurturing and expanding this partnership has been a key objective of this government. It was not accidental that the first big foreign visit David Cameron made as Prime Minister, back in 2010, was to India. And when the new Indian government came to power in May, the British Chancellor and Foreign Secretary flew over to New Delhi just weeks afterwards.

We particularly want to strengthen the links between London and Mumbai as financial centres.

As part of that visit to New Delhi in July, our Chancellor and your Finance Minister met for the seventh round of the annual UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogues.

There, they agreed to launch the UK-India Financial Partnership – a strategic partnership, supported by our governments and our financial services industries, which will draw London and Mumbai even closer together.

Over its first year, the Partnership has been set five broad tasks:

  • first, collaboration to develop the Indian corporate bond market – so that private sector and foreign investments can flow into the economy
  • second, learning from each other and sharing expertise on how to regulate a safe and stable financial system
  • third, enhancing financial training and qualifications, so we can develop highly qualified individuals to support sophisticated financial markets
  • fourth, supporting the Indian government’s efforts to ensure that everyone has access to appropriate and affordable financial services
  • fifth, enhancing cross-border provision of financial and insurance services. We want to deepen the links between our financial markets and to encourage more excellent Indian firms like Heckyl, Union Bank and Kotak Mahindra to operate in the UK

Speaking of Kotak Mahindra, today I am delighted to announce the leadership for our new Financial Partnership.

On India’s side, the Partnership will be led by Mr Uday Kotak who is here today. Mr Kotak, the Executive Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Bank. He is also Ernst and Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year 2014.

And on the United Kingdom’s side it will be led by Sir Gerry Grimstone. He is Chairman of Standard Life and TheCityUK, and has four decades’ worth of distinguished experience in both the public and private sectors – including as UKTI’s Special Representative to India for Financial Services.

Both Mr Kotak and Sir Gerry are highly respected business leaders leading large global financial services firms.

They both recognise that if you don’t seize existing opportunities, it’s very difficult to achieve the magnitude of success that sees you convert seed capital of less than US$250,000 into an international group with US$2.8 billion in revenue – as Mr Kotak has done.

And they both know the value that cross-border collaboration can add to national economies. For instance, Standard Life’s joint venture businesses in India and China have created jobs to serve 16 million customers.

Within the next year, Mr Kotak and Sir Gerry will lead a group of Indian and British financial services industry experts to examine key priorities within the five workstreams set out in the statement made at the Economic and Financial Dialogue.

I should stress that this is an independent, industry-led initiative. This is very much in step with our political philosophy: it is the job of governments to support industry, but we don’t want to do what industry can do better.

If they identify a problem which can be solved by industry-led action, they will do so.

And if the problem needs intervention at a government level, they will engage with policymakers in London and Mumbai.

Ahead of the next dialogue, Mr Kotak and Sir Gerry will report on the progress made by the Financial Partnership and will present recommendations to our finance ministers, including on further work for the next year.

I am very pleased that we have two such high-profile and eminent figures taking this Financial Partnership forward, and I strongly believe in the great future that the UK and India can have working together.

For instance, the UK would like to see the rupee develop into the strong international currency it has the potential to become. And, just as we are a key partner of China in the internationalisation of the renminbi, we would like to be your first port of call when – not if – this happens.

We will continue to be one of the strongest voices calling for an ambitious EU-India Broad based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) – because we fully recognise the benefits which accrue to both sides.

We want to see more investment – UK into India, and India into the UK. We want to share our expertise with you in building up your infrastructure. And we will help companies who wish to expand their operations from one country to the other.

And, though pounds and rupees are important, this should be a relationship which stretches beyond our money.

The world’s second largest overseas Indian population lives in the UK, giving us enormously strong cultural links; and my colleague in the Treasury Priti Patel is doing a superb job as the government’s champion for the Indian diaspora.

You have an ever-growing market for ambitious and high-skilled workers; and the UK has a great track record of giving them the training they need. So we’ve welcomed almost 100,000 students from India over the past five years.

And it’s not one-way traffic either: our Generation-UK India Programme will send 25,000 British students here over the next five years – to help them develop professional and personal links to your country.

As we build our relationship, we will always remember one key thing:

The UK and India have a common commitment to the creation of jobs and growth.

If we introduce the right policies and the right structural reforms, then that will translate into prosperity for all our citizens. The good times will indeed come.

So let’s continue to work together to make that prosperity happen.

Thank you.

Published 16 October 2014