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Global Britain vision to focus on India-UK relationship post Brexit

"However, the present India-UK trade relationship does not look particularly special. In 2016, the UK was the fifth-largest export destination for Indian exports, behind the USA, the UAE, Hong Kong and China. It accounted for only 3.3 percent of Indian exports, valued at $8.66 billion (€7.6 billion). This is miniscule in comparison to the almost 16 per cent of Indian goods exported to other EU countries. In terms of imports, the UK is not a significant exporter for the Indian market and overall, it barely scrapes into India's top 20 trade partners."

 

Global Britain vision to focus on India UK relationship post Brexit 002Once the UK manages to cast off the EU's yoke, it will be able to strike its own trade deals with countries around the world. This inevitably places India high up on its wish list.

UK, a miniscule part of India’s exports

However, the present India-UK trade relationship does not look particularly special. In 2016, the UK was the fifth-largest export destination for Indian exports, behind the USA, the UAE, Hong Kong and China. It accounted for only 3.3 percent of Indian exports, valued at $8.66 billion (€7.6 billion). This is miniscule in comparison to the almost 16 per cent of Indian goods exported to other EU countries. In terms of imports, the UK is not a significant exporter for the Indian market and overall, it barely scrapes into India's top 20 trade partners.

Yet, according to Kevin McCole, COO, UK India Business Council, this is not the full picture of the economic relationship between the countries. While India-UK trade relationship "is not as strong as it could be," the key to the overall relationship is the bilateral ties which include the level of investment from both countries into each other, and the level of shared innovation and research projects companies and institutions from the countries work on.

EU eager for a trade deal with India

McCole points out, growth in trade and investment between Britain and India will be driven by the tech sector. The EU hasGlobal Britain vision to focus on India UK relationship post Brexit 001 been in negotiations with India over a trade deal since 2007. While little progress has have been made since the Brexit vote, the EU is still eager for a deal. It believes that there is plenty of room to expand trade and investment relations and make them more fruitful.

The business sentiment within India is not as anti-Brexit. Shortly after the 2016 Brexit vote, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) conducted a survey of 45 Indian companies that do business in the UK. While 28 per cent said Brexit would have a negative impact on their business within the UK, 41 per cent said it would be either good for business or would make no difference. Similarly, 48 per cent said their primary reason for being in the UK was the UK market, rather than access to the EU market as a whole. This is a view that certainly can be found within some of India's major export areas. Clothes and textiles are one such area, accounting for a whopping 13 per cent of all Indian exports. The EU is the largest apparel market for India, with the UK taking in the biggest share of that and accounting for more than 10 percent of all Indian exports in apparel.

Yet as appealing as the advancement of UK-India business ties are to Brexit-supporting politicians or to those businesses with a particularly strong India-UK basis, they can hardly be seen in isolation from the central question currently gripping the entire Brexit debate.

 
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