India Even More Important In Case Of No-Deal Brexit, U.K. Envoy Says
India's importance in the eyes of the U.K. as trade and investment partner would increase if `No-Deal Brexit' happens, British High Commissioner Dominic Asquith said.
`No-Deal Brexit' refers to the U.K. leaving the European Union without any agreement about post-exit trade and customs arrangements.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and India’s Narendra Modi met on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France, on Sunday.
"Under our current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, we are focused on exit from the European Union by Oct. 31, preferably with a deal. But we are prepared to do it even without an agreement, a No-Deal Brexit," said Asquith.
"So in that context, if the U.K. is leaving the EU and we will be operating as an independent country not part of the 28 (EU member states), the importance of developing trading and investment relationships, not just with European mainland, but with its major partners abroad, will be even more important," he said.
"India is unquestionably one of our major partners," the U.K. envoy said, adding that the two countries can collaborate in renewable energy, electric vehicles, big data management, artificial intelligence, financial technologies and healthcare, among other sectors.
“In the last four years, the number of Indian companies investing in the U.K. has quadrupled. Last year alone, when people were believing the British economy is suffering due to Brexit, the number of Indian companies grew by another 50, taking the total number of such companies in the U.K. to 850," he told reporters.
Similarly, the U.K. remains the biggest investor among the Group of 20 countries in India, with around 450 British firms operating in the country, he added.
To a question on Brexit uncertainty hindering investment inflow into the U.K., the high commissioner claimed that it was not stopping Indian companies.
"Brexit is causing some companies to delay decisions, that tends to be the expansion of companies which are based in the U.K.. It does not seem to be stopping Indian companies from investing in the U.K. Last year alone, 50 Indian firms had invested in our country. So the number is rising," he said.
When asked if he thought the current state of Indian economy, which some believe is slowing down, was holding back British investors, Asquith said it is the ease of doing business and not the growth rate of economy that would attract investors to India.