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Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry

February 15th, 2010

India, UK agree to improve trade and investment flows

India's Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma with Rt. Hon

India and Britain agreed on the need for further improvement in the regulatory environment impacting trade and investment flows during the recently concluded Sixth Session of the Indo-U.K. Joint Economic & Trade Commission (JETCO) in London. The JETCO Session was attended by India's Minister of Commerce & Industry Anand Sharma and British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Lord Peter Mandelson. The U.K. is among India's major trading partners. Bilateral trade with U.K. during 2008-09 stood at $12 billion.

"The massive infrastructure development programme being undertaken in India presents huge opportunities for foreign investment. India recognised the experience of the U.K. in infrastructure development through public-private partnerships, which could be gainfully exploited for the establishment of capacity building programmes in India," Mr. Sharma said.

Referring to market access issues for both goods and services, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to increase FDI flows.

In the areas of manufacturing, innovations and green technologies, both sides agreed on the importance of bilateral investment flows in the research and development sector, and welcomed efforts to promote technology transfer and links between entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and universities. In vocational training and skills, both sides agreed to work together to explore new opportunities including developing sector specific vocational training institutions modelled on Britain's Sector Skills Councils. Specific sectors identified as a priority for future skills collaboration were: employability; health sector training; soft skills; and certification and accreditation.

Management of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and agribusiness supply chains were announced as a new working group. It was felt that a collaborative approach to value addition in agriculture in India would create a mutually beneficial environment for both Britain and India and, in turn, support India's inclusive growth agenda. It was agreed that a meeting of senior officials would be held once in six months to facilitate implementation of the decisions of JETCO and to review its progress.

The Ministers also announced that the agreement between India and Britain to cooperate on civil nuclear energy was ready for signing after the two sides reached agreement on its text.

"The two sides have discussed and initiated a civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement and we hope that will be signed soon," Mr. Sharma said.

"I look forward to the U.K. and India signing the civil nuclear cooperation agreement as soon as possible. The text is in place - all it needs is a political signature and that needs to come soon," said Mr. Mandelson.

The British Minister said the agreement will facilitate greater cooperation in the area of "low-carbon energy solutions", where British companies are world leaders. "This is a very significant advance. There is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be signed next week. It just needs ministerial go-ahead, and it's there, waiting to be signed," he added.

The next meeting of JETCO would take place after one year in India in New Delhi.

Mr. Sharma also met Ed Milliband, Secretary of State for Department of Energy and Climate Change. While giving an overview of the JETCO deliberations, he discussed the need for harmonising development and climate change particularly in creating synergies in the manufacturing innovation and technological requirements for clean development mechanisms.

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