Tuesday, February 19, 2013

British trade delegations - a vital part of my job

People sometimes ask me why I take trade delegations with me when I travel overseas. I tell them that my first priority as UK Prime Minister is to do everything I can to ensure that Britain succeeds in the Global Race. I know we have the great businesses and entrepreneurs to make that possible. But I also know that success in business does not just happen. We can not rely merely on sentiment and shared history with our trading partners. We have to get out there, make the case for Britain and open doors for British business.

That is why I see leading British trade delegations as a vital part of my job and today I’m leading a group of over 100 business representatives, education specialists and Parliamentarians to India. It's the biggest delegation a British Prime Minister has ever taken anywhere in the world And it builds on successful trade visits last year to BrazilMexico, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan.

Success in the global race is ultimately about linking Britain to the fastest growing economies in the world – and few countries are more vibrant or exciting than India. That is why India was the destination for my first trade visit as Prime Minister, and it is the first country I am returning to on a trade mission.

Back in 2010, I set a target, together with the Indian government, to double bilateral trade between our two countries by 2015. Since then we have made good progress. In 2010 and 2011 trade grew at an average of 23 per cent. The value of jointly funded research has increased by a staggering 12,000 per cent. Here in Britain, Indian investments in 2011 alone generated 5,500 jobs while Indian capital and expertise has helped turn Jaguar Land Rover into one of the most successful car companies in the world last year.

There is more to do. As two countries which share special ties of history, language and culture I believe we can go further in making Britain India’s global partner of choice and so we should go to India upbeat and confident about what Britain has to offer.

As India grows, it needs a partner that can support its ambition. India plans to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years. It wants to quadruple its electricity capacity and to invest $143 billion to meet its growing demands for healthcare. It wants its business to have unrivalled access to European and global markets and its students to get the best education in the world. Britain can do all of these things and more. The companies and organisations in this delegation are uniquely placed to meet India’s demands. We want to attract India’s brightest and best students. And I intend to say so at every opportunity.

But I know that my role as Prime Minister is also about more than helping promote your businesses. It’s also about making sure we get the business environment right. On this trip we are pushing to do just that – including through laying the foundations for a free trade agreement that could deliver new deals, jobs and growth for generations to come. You can help us get closer to the finishing line by galvanising Indian private sector partners to help the Government of India understand that it’s a win-win.

I know the delegation of British business leaders accompanying me to India will take the opportunity to tell me and my team about any other ways in which we can help tackle barriers that are getting in the way of new business opportunities, Comment below this post with your thoughts.