British PM May pins hopes on India to heal Brexit wounds

London, Oct 17 (IANS) Seeking to create jobs at home and stabilise the economy following the Brexit vote, British Prime Minister Theresa May will be leading a trade mission to India next month in her first major official visit outside Europe.

May will be taking along some of the best of British business to India during her three-day visit beginning November 6, aimed at boosting India-UK bilateral ties.

Her visit is significant because of the ripple effect created by the Brexit referendum vote. As the pound falls, the country is looking for long-term trade deals and business associations to stabilise the economy.

“The UK will be the most passionate, most consistent, and most convincing advocate for free trade,” May said in a statement prior to the visit.

“As we leave the European Union we have the chance to forge a new global role for the UK — to look beyond our continent and towards the economic and diplomatic opportunities in the wider world,” she added. “I am determined to capitalise on those opportunities, and as we embark on the trade mission to India we will send the message that the UK will be the most passionate, most consistent, and most convincing advocate for free trade.

The British Prime Minister will hold discussions with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during her visit on developing the strategic partnership between the UK and India, “building on the deep links and cooperation we already share”.

“In the past, the focus of trade delegations has been big businesses, but I want to take a new approach that recognises the full range of British business,” she added. “So this time we will be focussing on small and medium sized businesses — and, importantly, the delegation will include representation from every region of the UK. I want to create an economy that truly works for everyone — and this new approach to international trade missions will help achieve just that.

“The relationships between our two countries are strong, and the Indian diaspora plays a vital role in our national life. In my talks with Prime Minister Modi I want to build on our relationship for the benefit of both our countries, generating jobs and wealth and maintaining cooperation on defence and security.”

May will visit two cities in India, starting with the capital New Delhi, where she will inaugurate the India-UK TECH Summit alongside Modi. The TECH Summit, South Asia’s largest technology conference, will provide a platform for promoting technology-intensive trade between the two countries.

The visit will mark the British Prime Minister’s first trade mission, with a business delegation drawn from regions across the UK due to accompany her to India. It will consist predominantly of small and medium sized businesses, including Geolang, an innovative cyber security company based in Cardiff, Torftech, a creative energy company based in the South-East, and Telensa, a company focussed on smart city solutions based in Cambridge.

May will use the visit to deliver on the ambitious vision for Britain after Brexit she set out in a speech earlier this month, forging a new global role for the UK as a country with the self-confidence and the freedom to look beyond the continent of Europe. And she will use the visit to deliver on her pledge to create an economy that truly works for all, by introducing new and emerging enterprises, as well as more established players, to the key Indian market.

A number of commercial deals are expected to be signed during the visit, creating and securing jobs at home and demonstrating market confidence in the strength of the British economy following the EU referendum vote.

With approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK, the Indian diaspora plays a vital role in our national life. India is now our second largest international job creator. Last year, India created 7,105 new jobs in Britain through 140 projects, and in total Indian companies currently employ over 100,000 people in the UK. We have unique ties between our two countries, and there is enormous potential to grow, she said.

Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox will join the visit.

The visit will mark Prime Minister May’s second trip to India. In her capacity as Home Secretary, she previously visited New Delhi and Hyderabad in November 2012.

(Anasudhin Azeez is Executive Editor/MD of Asian Lite. He can be reached at md@asianlite.com)

–IANS

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