FCO e-Gram 40995/07
|Created||10/5/07 8:36:00 AM
|Subject||LORD JONES' VISIT TO INDIA: PARTNERS IN GLOBALISATION
|Summary||Corrected Version, original eGram Number: 40992/07 1. High profile visit to four cities with wide press coverage. Good prospects for new inward investment, though costs/skills an issue. Regulatory reform politically difficultregular high level dialogue our best hope of achieving step by step progress. Marketing the UK's success is essential to maintaining our credibility in this competitive market. The UKTI business conference/awards and launch of UKIBC hit this target.
2. Digby Jones visited Delhi, Chandigarh, Pune and Mumbai
from 24-27 September (programme attached) (not printed here).
This visit achieved its three key objectives of raising the UK's
business profile, pushing for liberalisation of the economy (particularly
in financial and legal services) and highlighting the attraction
of the UK as a place to invest.
MARKETING UK SUCCESS
3. The depth of the UK's business links is often under-appreciated
in India, as all the OECD markets jostle for position here. UK
success is often hidden behind foreign brands (eg German machine
tools made in UK) or embedded as consultancy/engineering (eg Mott's
master plan for the New Delhi airport). The Minister made a powerful
pitch for our open markets and UK manufacturing and technology
strengths. He highlighted the UK's position near the top of India's
current business partners: trade at £BP4bn in both directions,
the UK is India's no 3 investor, and we achieve 60% of Indian
investment into Europe. These investment links are supporting
a range of strategic business models in both directions.
The visit generated extensive TV coverage, including two
30-minute interviews on the main business news channelsCNBC
and NDTV Profit. There was wide coverage in all the Indian business
papers and national and regional dailies (Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati
and Urdu). The Minister's media interactions generated very positive
stories. The relevant articles have been sent to London. These
included: FT, Guardian and Times, and a Radio West Midlands interview.
Wide coverage of the Business conference in Mumbai and the
Awards ceremony including Ratan Tata's comments at the UKTI Conference
about the UK being "the most open country in the world for
business" hit home a message that money can't buy.
4. UK/India Business Conference & UK/India Business
The UKTI Conference "Partners in Globalisation"
and Awards generated an audience of over 500 decision-makers (programme
and list of winners attached). Three delegations joined the event
(from Manchester, Yorkshire and CBC), and local RDAs were tied
in. This networking has already generated discussions between
Manchester Airport and Kingfisher Airlines and a potential opportunity
for consultants Benoy to design F1 track/complex in India.
5. The Minister used his platform at the Conference to
launch the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) in India. This will
be the lead business networking/events organisation for the UK
and India, closely aligned with UKTI. UKIBC will set up offices
at the High Commission in Delhi and Mumbai, and hopes to use existing
British Business Groups in India as a membership vehicle here.
6. The Minister met senior players, including the Tata
Group, Bharat Forge, UB Group, Ranbaxy, Dabur, HCL, ICICI. Detailed
notes on key points will go to Business Group. Some highlights:
Bharat Forge are looking for a site for their European HQ
(concerns about UK tax on dividend transfers), a new forgings
plant, and possible Aerospace links. We are following up on all
points, and will organise a tour of the "aerospace corridor"
for MD, Baba Kalyani, in the autumn.
Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata echoed the call for better
skills in India, and for economic liberalisation. He explained
the role of the Investment Commission which he chairs, and regretted
that the key recommendations in its report five years ago still
await implementation. He admitted that his own views of the UK
had changed dramatically over the past year, opening his eyes
to our strength in innovation, and high end technology, engineering
and manufacturing. This, together with the open stance, had encouraged
Tata to create their Pearl Assurance/Peterborough campus and xxxxxxxx
(not yet publicly announced).
Tech Mahindra plan to expand their JV with BT which has operations
in Belfast, Milton Keynes and Pune. Mahindra welcomed the "good
work ethic" in their Northern Ireland workforce. They made
familiar points about the need for India to create better infrastructure
and to open up the education sector in order to produce more skilled
employeesthis chimes with our plans to make Education and
Infrastructure themes of the forthcoming PM Summit.
Lord Jones met UK energy companies, and heard about frustrations
faced by Premier and Cairn on their large exploration and pipeline
projects. The Minister will write to Petroleum Minister Deora
(who was out of town), making the case for a timebound and transparent
decision making process, which will be essential to bring in sufficient
FDI to power India's growing infrastructure needs. We will also
aim to use Deora's proposed visit to UK in the autumn to showcase
UK capability, including in clean energy technologies.
8. Pushing for liberalisation
Lord Jones raised financial services liberalisation with
the Finance Secretary (PUS) Subbarao and with Governor Reddy at
the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). On Insurance, Subbarao confirmed
that parliamentary arithmetic would determine when the Insurance
bill could be passed, but he did not expect it to happen before
the year end. On Banking, Reddy did not give any ground on the
expansion of bank branches, or a clear response on the need for
foreign banks to obtain a banking license for their admin offices.
Lord Jones said he hoped the plans for new FDI caps on non-banking
financial companies would not adversely affect Experian's credit
information business. We are following up with a detailed letter
on all these issues. There is a danger that the 200? Roadmap
for Banking Reform will slip. To reduce this risk, we need
to work with EU, US and others to tie the Government down to its
commitments. As part of this strategy, we plan to hold a major
seminar on the Roadmap next year.
9. In Lord Jones' meeting with the Law Minister, Bharadwaj
reiterated his strong support for liberalisation, and his (over?)
optimistic expectation of passing laws to enable foreign lawyers
to practise by early 2008. Bharadwaj visits the UK next month,
and the Bar Council are expected to visit in November. We will
continue to track progress closely with the Law Society. As a
follow up to this meeting, the Minister will write to Bharadwaj
with detailed questions about how the new legislation and accompanying
regulations will work in practice.
10. The Economy
The Minister saw at first hand the high levels of corporate
growth and confidence here. Companies are eager to expand, both
organically (eg pharma companies moving up the value chain) and
through M&A. There was strong interest in listing in London
(LSE and AIM).. The subprime mortgage maelstrom had had little
effect on the real economy, though Governor Reddy was concerned
about increased liquidity resulting from capital inflows from
the US and Europe. He thought growth was on track for at least
8.5% this year, and that inflation would remain under 5% (Comment:
It is now down to 3.3%).
11. Subbarao was not complacent about India's 8.5% growth
over the past five years. This was still not sufficiently inclusive.
For the first time in India's history, job creation was now outpacing
population growth (though for demographic reasons not labour force
growth). The 60% of the population who depended on agriculturejust
18% of GDPrepresented the country's biggest challenge.
The Government needed to generate 4% growth in this sector, including
large numbers of manufacturing sector jobs. India could not rely
on services alone, which generally required higher skills. Indeed,
growing concerns about whether India could supply the skilled
workforce needed to sustain economic success was the dominant
theme of a lunch with leading economists.
Several companies complained about UK work permits, which
require an employee to have completed 6 months work in a company.
In today's fast moving marketplaces (especially India with high
staff turnover rates), this puts us at a disadvantage against
some other countries. The Minister agreed to follow up with the
Home Office. UK companies are also facing problems getting visas
for their expat staff and families. We will collate further information
through the British business groups in India and raise again with
13. West Midlands and People issues
The Minister visited St John's School in Chandigarh, where
he presented a football to local children as a symbol of the recently
launched partnership between the Punjab and Wolverhampton.
This visit set out strong commitment to being one of India's
top business partnersnow and in the future. We must sustain
this pitch to government and business leadersthe Summit
will be the next milestone in the dialogue. The Summit business
delegation and conference will focus on six top sectors: financial
services, infrastructure, energy, advanced engineering, pharmaceuticals
and ICT/telecoms. Our bid for new business here will be more credible
if we can get visibility for "unseen" UK success (eg
25% of Boeing aircraft, embedded systems in every mobile phones)
and for foreign brands produced in the UK (eg auto components,
machine tools). It would be useful to have some material from
UKTI's Marketing team to help us hit this message home.
The Government is likely to bow to domestic political pressures
to go slow on big ticket regulatory reform in the medium termwe
are most likely to get deliverables which don't involve legislation
or political risk (though the Limited Liability bill, if it gets
passed in the autumn, will be a step in the right direction for
accountants and lawyers). Our objective is to keep the Government's
feet to the fire on insurance and banking, though this could be
a long game. We must also stress the win-win nature of joint work
on financial services, PPP, education and clean energy, and the
impact these sectors will have on India's 900 million people living
on under $2 per day.
24 January 2008