Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here on my first visit to Chhattisgarh. I am particularly pleased to have with me representatives of seven world class UK companies. All of us believe that there are real opportunities in this state and we are excited to have the opportunity of discussing them with all of you at this business seminar.
I arrived in Raipur yesterday evening but I’ve been looking forward to this visit for a long time. I’ve heard so much about the huge potential of Chhattisgarh. It has all the ingredients for a success story - the rich mineral reserves, agricultural wealth, growing and modern infrastructure, a positive business climate, a strategic location and, perhaps above all, good governance.
I am told that industry in the state is already making rapid progress. There is real dynamism in sectors like steel, aluminium, energy and infrastructure. With many more projects in the pipeline the opportunities will continue to grow. It was very encouraging to see the announcements of various new projects during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Chhattisgarh last week.
The British government places great important on strengthening and deepening our relationship with India. Our two countries have close and historic links. Those connections are expanding in areas like trade, development, education, science and research.
The UK-India business relationship is already strong
bilateral trade is worth around £16.5 billion growing by almost 50% from 2008 to 2013.
the UK is India’s largest G20 investor. Last year the UK invested $3.2 billion in India, that’s more than Japan ($1.7 billion) and the US (just under $1billion), who are ranked 2 and 3 respectively, combined. Aggregating all investment over the last 14 years, the UK still ranks as the No.1 G20 investor and accounts for 10% of all investment into India over this period.
and India is one of the biggest investors in the UK and invests more in the UK than it invests in the rest of the EU combined.
So the business relationship is strong, but we believe it could be stronger still.
When we work with UK companies looking at the opportunities in India, we are encouraging them to look beyond the obvious centres like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. There are large and, from an international perspective, rather unexplored markets beyond these cities where excellent companies with the right vision and expertise will find huge opportunities to win business and to grow. That’s why I asked these UK companies to join me in Raipur, and why they were glad to do so – so that UK and Chhattisgarh can build new contacts, strengthen the existing ones, and find more ways to do business together.
We think the UK and British business has a lot to offer.
The UK remains one of the largest global economies. We are the world’s sixth largest manufacturer, excelling in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, low carbon technology, education, infrastructure, financial services, energy, creative industries and much more. There is a very good match between UK expertise and technology and the things that India - and Chhattisgarh in particular - is looking for. Let me mention a few.
In infrastructure, with India investing heavily in its roads, rail and ports, and urban and industrial infrastructure, British companies can provide expertise in project management, design, structural engineering, power distribution, specialist equipment and more.
Prime Minister Modi has launched two visionary projects - the 100 Smart Cities and AMRUT (the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation). These offer real opportunities to show what UK expertise can offer in master planning; project management; low carbon urban development; smart technologies in water and wastewater management, solid waste management and urban transport. I would be delighted to see UK companies working hand in hand with Chhattisgarh on smart cities and urban projects in Naya Raipur and elsewhere in the state.
The UK also has a strong record in mining and power sectors. We have worked closely with Indian industry on advanced mining technologies - some of which have been deployed in this state already - and cleaner coal technologies. The UK boasts market-leading designers, developers and manufacturers of low carbon technologies. And we have world-leading expertise in carbon measurement and management, carbon finance and energy efficient technologies.
Education is essential for the future success of both our countries. Last July, our two Prime Ministers agreed to the extension of the successful UK India Education and Research Initiative. It has already created almost 600 new partnerships between UK and Indian institutions at all levels of the education system - but there is certainly potential to do more.
But I don’t want to just stress the opportunities that exist in India. The UK offers Indian companies many opportunities as an investment destination and as a launch pad for further European expansion. Lots of big Indian companies are doing very well in the UK: Tata Group, Wipro, Infosys and others. We want to see more of that but we also want to see more small and medium sized Indian companies look to the UK as their European destination of choice.
It is my job, and that of my team from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), to bring Indian and UK companies together to share skills and experience and help them form partnerships that benefit both our countries. That’s what today’s seminar is about.
The companies here today bring world-class expertise in areas like master-planning & design, architecture, project management and transaction advisory, urban transport planning, waste management and mining. All of them are keen to work with local industry and government to bring their expertise to this dynamic market. I hope all of you will take this opportunity to work together to seize the exciting opportunities that exist in the great state of Chhattisgarh.