A new era of UK-India cooperation

Jeffrey Mountevans, Lord Mayor of the City of London, on how collaboration between the two nations can further India’s growth

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visionary economic reform plans for India and his focus on the new “Make in India” agenda bring exciting developments to UK-India relations, while the UK government-led “GREAT for Collaboration” is an ambitious campaign showcasing how India-UK businesses are working together.

The campaign, launched by Modi and UK Prime Minister David Cameron in January 2015, will inspire new partnerships, encourage greater awareness of the scale of the UK’s commitment to India and ultimately increase business between the two countries.

This campaign echoes my remit in India this week: firstly, I will talk with policymakers, to demonstrate how working with the UK, in the field of financial and professional services, can transform lives—a bank branch opening up that enables small businesses to take out loans to expand, young people attending business training courses with links to our universities who then set up their own companies, financing infrastructure projects to create transport networks that cut journey times and bring economic growth. I want to show how promoting such projects and creating a regulatory environment where they flourish can benefit India and make its growth more sustainable.

I am also looking forward to exploring use of the rupee internationally. My visit coincides with the release of a report on the subject commissioned by the City of London, written by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research. As the leading foreign exchange centre, the UK has unique expertise in supporting the integration of new currencies into the market and is keen to provide insights on related areas such as foreign investment.

Another topic of mutual interest is the creation of a skilled workforce. With India’s renewed growth trajectory, there is a greater demand for professionally qualified staff. The UK is a world leader in providing educational resources—qualifications from its institutions are globally recognized and coveted. An investment in education, training and qualifications (ETQ) can help a country to build a highway from school to employment, which creates an atmosphere where internationally successful financial services firms can flourish.

With a huge proportion of India’s population under 25 years of age, India has a golden opportunity to create a dynamic and innovative workforce which is the envy of the world. Our experience in other markets has shown that partnering with some of the UK’s providers of ETQ, countries like India give themselves the best chance of fulfilling this aspiration.

The City of London wants to work with the Indian government and businesses to optimize green financing opportunities—India has a blossoming renewables market and the UK government and industry, including through the City of London Green Finance Initiative, is committed to promoting the UK as a key market for supplying green financing. Working together will bring new opportunities for both markets and reinforcing the commitment to deepen economic ties and to work together across infrastructure and financial services to solve shared challenges.

London—by virtue of its financial expertise and global reach—is amongst the premier venues for the provision of green services. In the past year, we have witnessed landmark green bond issuances by the Agricultural Bank of China, the International Finance Corporation and Transport for London—the total capital mobilized by the Green Investment Bank surpassed £10 billion, supporting low-carbon projects across the UK. We look forward to working with partners in India to build on this success.

Modi calls India and the UK an “unbeatable combination”—I look forward to kick-starting my India visit on Thursday to further our deep ties.

Jeffrey Mountevans is the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Comments are welcome at otherviews@livemint.com