UK seeks strong links with India in IT

By : |October 31, 2001 0

PUNE: India’s largest trading partner after the US, the UK accounted for
5.7 per cent of India’s total foreign trade in goods in 2000-01. And more than
1500 new Indo-British joint ventures have been approved since 1993. UK now seeks
increased cooperation between the two nations by inviting more companies to come
over to Britain and begin operations.

This was the mood that emanated from Douglas Alexander, British minister of
state for e-commerce and competitiveness whose first stop was Pune. The British
minister earlier visited Mahindra British Telecom Ltd. and the Pune University
to understand its strengths in IT.

"India’s strengths in the ICT sectors are well known around the world.
But given my ministerial responsibilities, it is important that I see for myself
what the strengths are. UK is the preferred gateway to Europe for Indian
companies working in the IT sector. We want more of you to come over," said
Alexander. According to the minister, more than 60 per cent of Indian
investments in Europe were in the UK. Of these 50 per cent were in the software
sector. Stating that the UK was the largest e-commerce market in Europe, he said
that Indian companies would get plenty of opportunities to promote business.
More than 200 companies had invested in the UK. Of these 100 were in the IC
sector, he said. Similarly, there were 100 odd UK companies who are currently in
the process of investing in India.

Britain is also relaxing norms to attract Indian companies. Alexander
explained that significant steps had been taken in order to simplify procedures.
All that companies needed to do was present a sound business plan and the permit
would be given in two weeks. The work permit regime had also been made more
flexible. Individuals were now allowed to switch firms on the same work permit
in the UK. The validity of work permits had also been extended. At least 18,000
work permits had been issued to Indians. Of these, 11,500 permits were given to
IT professionals.

Alexander also added that India ranked among the top 10 foreign countries to
invest in the UK. "Last year, we received the maximum number of enquiries
from India," he said.

Earlier, Alexander announced the creation of the British Business Group. The
aim, he said, was to be a partner of first choice for Indian trade and commerce.

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