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Transcript of the speech by Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India at the inauguration of 'UK and Odisha in partnership' seminar.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen
It’s a great pleasure to be here with you all in Bhubaneswar. I have been the British Deputy High Commissioner in Eastern India for just four months and this is my first visit to the great state of Odisha. It’s one of thirteen states in which I represent the British Government but it’s one of the very first that I’ve visited and one of those that I’m most excited to get to know.
This is a place with a rich history that is rightly proud of its glorious past. But, thanks to one of the best examples of good governance in India, it is also a state with a bright future.
Things are happening in Odisha: in infrastructure and industry, in skills and education. Today the tremendous potential of Odisha’s natural resources and of its people is being realised, more than ever before.
And so, more than ever before, Odisha is a great place to do business. And that’s why I have brought with me this week seventeen great British companies who want to do just that. This is the largest UK trade delegation ever to have visited Odisha. Some of these companies are already doing business in Odisha and are interested in doing more. Some of them hope to do business here for the first time. All of them recognise the tremendous opportunities here and believe their world-class products and services can play a role in Odisha’s future.
Odisha has faced its share of challenges, of course. And one very recent one – the terrible Cyclone that hit the coast here in October - is still making its effects felt. The extensive damage to property and infrastructure from Cyclone Phailin will take time to put right. The Government of Odisha is doing a great job with this. And before coming here this morning I met a number of NGOS, funded by the British Government, who are doing great work things too. The people of Odisha are strong and determined and the state is already bouncing back.
We’ve all come here this week as part of something that we call the GREAT campaign. It’s a campaign with a simple message: Britain is GREAT. We are proud of our past and confident of our future. And we want to celebrate the things that make the United Kingdom great.
British businesses – large and small – and the entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation that drive them, are an important part of that. We are proud of our entrepreneurs: people like Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, Sir Paul Smith the fashion designer, and James Dyson the inventor of revolutionary household appliances like the Dyson vacuum cleaner. We are proud of our designers: those of you who are using an iPad or iPhone today, may not know that it was designed by a Brit, Sir Jonathan Ive.
We are proud too of the fact that the UK is one of the most business friendly places in the world – which is why, I am delighted to say, Indians invest more in the UK than in the whole of the rest of the EU put together. It takes just 13 days to set up a business in the UK. We already have the lowest corporation tax in the G8: by 2015 it will be the lowest in the G20. These are among them any reasons that the UK attracts more FDI than any other country except the US. Quite simply, if you want to be global, the UK is the place to be.
I was delighted to learn that a local company from Bhubaneswar set up a business in the UK a few months ago. I am sure that many others will follow. If any of you here are thinking of expanding your own businesses overseas I encourage you to think about the UK. My colleagues from UK Trade & Investment will be only too happy to help you.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Business between Britain and India is booming. We are on course to meet the target set in 2010 by our two Prime Ministers of doubling trade by 2015. And investment both ways is growing too. UK companies such as BP and Vodafone have made large investments in India. The UK is now the third largest investor in India and India is now the 5th largest investor in the UK.
The trade and investment between our countries is a vital part of a relationship that is strong, wide and deep.
- Britain and India have common interests. A peaceful, prosperous and just world. A rules-based international order.
- We share a deep commitment to democracy, human rights, pluralism and inclusive development.
- We have shared history, values and language. We have the same bureaucracies and the same sense of humour.
- We are both committed to deepening the partnership between our two countries. My Prime Minister has now paid three visits to India since he took office in 2010, more than to any other country.
- We are working together on almost all the things that matter to our citizens.
Our ambition is to make the relationship between Britain and India even stronger, wider and deeper. And we are seeing progress. But I think we can and should do better. Given the ties between us, we should be much more ambitious.
India’s strategic goal is transformation: inclusive development that benefits all its people. The UK can play an important part in helping India to achieve that:
- India needs inward investment to build the country its people want: the UK specialises in raising and delivering investment capital.
- India needs infrastructure: roads, metros, railways, ports, airports: UK companies have real strengths in infrastructure development.
- India needs to build new cities and to manage the successful expansion of its existing ones: the UK has world-beating urban planners and architects.
- India wants to create a bigger manufacturing sector at the top end of the value chain: the UK specialises in precisely the high tech manufacturing required.
- India needs power, from both traditional sources like oil and gas, and renewable sources like wind and solar power: Britain is home to world-class companies in the power sector.
- India wants to educate the 500 million of its young people who will be coming onto the labour market in the next ten years: we have excellent education and skills providers.
- India wants better healthcare for its 1.2 billion people: the UK has great expertise in health and medicine.
- As Indian businesses become global players, they want the kind of international services which the UK offers: in banking, insurance, accountancy, law.
- India wants access to global markets. The UK is a great base from which to access the world’s largest single market, the EU; and the world itself via the City and the London Stock Exchange.
So there is a close match between what India wants and what the UK offers, and between what the UK wants and what India offers. That’s a good basis for an even stronger partnership in the coming years.
Odisha is a great place for that relationship to grow. We have some excellent partnerships here already – in education, culture, development and - more and more - in business. I am confident that the UK companies here with us today will discover new opportunities and build new partnerships. Working together, we can ensure that the best days of the UK/Odisha relationship are yet to come and that the future of Odisha and its people is as bright as it can be.