Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said that there will be substantial outcome from the forthcoming visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron to India later this month.

Sharma who was here to address the investor community said, “We have two incoming high-level visits within few days — in less than 12 days. First, President Hollande of France and then Prime Minister Cameron”.

“We hope that there would be substantial outcome from the forthcoming visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron to India,” he told reporters at India House here last night.

He said leaders from defence, manufacturing sector, mining, education, retail, banking and financial sectors will form part of his delegation.

Describing India’s partnership with UK and France as strategic and very important, Sharma said, “Both UK and France are key partners. With UK, we enjoy a special relationship for historical reasons.

“We have a large Indian diaspora and a large number of Indian professionals and Indian students and the exchange embraces diverse sectors, from education to vocational education, to R&D innovation, health care, advance manufacturing, nuclear science and space science.

Similarly with France that is a strategic partnership with multiple sector engagement, he added.

“When we engage bilaterally, we look at the strengths of our bilateral engagement. In today’s world economic engagement is integral how nations engage with each other with regional blocs, economic communities and globally.

“With UK we have fairly robust engagement when it comes to institutional linkages, trade and investment. There has been a marginal contraction of trade but that is happening globally because of the difficult economic situation,” Sharma said.

The Minister further said, “We have concerns which have affected the investors confidence, flow of capital from one part to the other and also trade.

“Still the two-way trade is $15 billion. British investment in India is about $28 billion. There are more in the pipeline.”

The Minister noted that India’s investments are also very substantial in the UK.

“Indian companies are second largest employment provider in the manufacturing sector in the UK.”

He hoped that as a sequel to opening of FDI in retail, “there will be flow not only of investments but also of technology, modern grading, processing, cold storages, entire cold chain — integrated value chain, not only within the country from farm to kitchen but beyond that.”

The Minister further said “India is a major sourcing region for the global retailers already and when it comes to agriculture we are second largest producer of foodgrains in the world, and second largest producer of fruits and vegetable in the world but in both harvest losses are a major issue.”

“We have tried to reduce the losses. We are in the process of establishing Food Parks, processing units — 45 of them.

This is one sector besides Infrastructure, Pharmaceutical, IT, Manufacturing which is bound to grow in a big way in India.”

He said Tesco Chairman had met him and Tesco CEO would meet him shortly. “So have been chiefs of other major global retailers.”

The Minister said “there is a renewed and enthusiastic interest of investors in India. One can see the perceptible change because what we have been consistently saying as a Government with abiding commitment to reforms agenda.

Policies are cast in stone and now we want the investors to take necessary steps.”

“For the single brand, already there is much forward commitment. Six major proposals have already been cleared and five more are on the agenda which stand in principle approved".

He said eleven states have already notified (in favour of FDI) and others will come.

Stating India’s growth this year would be 5.5 per cent, Sharma said “India will rebound to high growth” at the earliest.

Referring to the National Manufacturing Policy adopted by the Government, he said “it has the primary objective of raising the share of manufacturing from the low 16 per cent to 25 to 26 per cent in one decade and create 100 million skilled jobs in one decade.

He said he had also met Lord Stephen Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment.

The Visa problems faced by Indian students was also discussed with the British Government, he added.

(This article was published on February 9, 2013)
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