UK businesses in India have rated Maharashtra the highest amongst States in terms of the operating environment, followed by Gujarat, Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, per the UK India Business Council’s annual ‘Doing Business in India’ Report 2022.

On the UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) being negotiated, businesses identify tariffs, product standards/certification, intellectual property, and customs procedures as the issues they would most like the pact to cover, the report stated.

The findings of the report are derived from a survey of 111 UK businesses and higher education institutions, according to UKIBC.  “The survey is consistent with our seven previous surveys conducted annually from 2015 to 2021, as completed by over 600 respondents in total,” it said.

Desired reforms

Improving turnaround time of approvals and bureaucratic processes is the most desired reform by UK businesses, chosen by 54 per cent of businesses surveyed. Simplification of the GST processes and increasing regulatory certainty were also frequently desired reforms, according to the report.

As many as 67 percent of businesses surveyed this year viewed Atmanirbhar Bharat as an opportunity to do more trade and investment with India. 

The 33 per cent businesses that saw Atmanirbhar Bharat as a challenge, raised concerns that local goods and manufacturing are being prioritised ahead of international alternatives, sometimes to the detriment of India.

Issues raised

Other businesses raised issues around the requirement to transfer IP and said they would like to see greater investor protection, regulatory certainty and IP protection and processes.

Respondents identified telecommunication facilities, availability of skilled labour and availability of supply chain as strong elements in India’s operating environment.

The report’s findings were shared with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, the nodal department for bringing about improvements in ease of doing business, and with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation responsible for supporting investors in Maharashtra.

“It’s really important that this government-business dialogue on the ease of doing business continues alongside the FTA talks, which we hope will include the additional investor protections that will make India an even more compelling investment destination in an increasingly competitive environment, with countries across Asia and, indeed, the world, doing everything they can to attract job creating investments,” said UKIBC Managing Director Kevin McCole.

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