CBI mission to boost UK-India trade talks

The UK's largest business organisation embarked on its first ever mission to India on Monday at a time when the leaders of both nations appeared to be giving fresh impetus to sealing a landmark, bilateral trade deal in the coming months.

India and UK, two flags waving against blue sky

*New!* Out now, the Winter 22/23 issue of Think Global People magazine

The three-day trip by the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) business delegation featured some of the biggest names from UK and Indian industries including HSBC, Tide, Pernod Ricard, and ICICI Bank.

Related reading from Relocate Global

UK-India free trade deal on the table

Syma Cullasy-Aldridge, chief campaigns director at the CBI, who is leading the delegation, said: “With a free trade deal between the UK and India soon to be signed – and agreements such as the UK-India Young Professionals Mobility scheme already in place – now is the time for businesses to explore how to grasp the huge opportunities that India affords.  “The CBI’s first ever delegation to India will put the promise of an FTA (free trade agreement) into practice – helping businesses develop links with key stakeholders and supporting UK firms to go for growth around the world.”The delegation set off just days after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unexpectedly attended a meeting in London between Ajit Doval, India's national security adviser, and his British counterpart, Tim Barrow. The Indian High Commission in London said Mr Sunak highlighted the UK government's determination to deepen the two nations' strategic partnership in areas such as trade, defence, and science and technology.Originally, it had been hoped the FTA would be agreed by last October, but discussions were interrupted by political upheaval in Britain and disagreements over issues such as the removal of some tariff barriers and access to financial services.In December, the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch made her first visit to India to boost negotiations in talks with Piyush Goyal, India's commerce minister. A seventh round of detailed negotiations is now due to begin shortly.

Unlocking the benefits for both countries

Greg Hands, UK minister for trade policy at the Department for International Trade, warmly welcomed the fact that the CBI was now visiting India.“The UK-India relationship is going from strength to strength, so it is fantastic that the CBI is sending its first-ever business delegation to India," he said.“India is on track to become the third largest economy with a quarter of a billion middle-class consumers by 2050 – so the free trade deal we're negotiating with them could unlock huge benefits for UK firms.” 

'Partnering for innovation and sustainability'

In a statement on Monday, the CBI said the trip would bring UK business, together with "key senior stakeholders" from the British High Commission in Delhi and the government of India, to discuss growth opportunities in the Indian market for UK businesses and how an FTA could help unlock them."The delegation will focus on key growth sectors where UK and Indian business can develop profitable partnerships such as innovation and sustainability," the statement added."The visit aims to share knowledge on how to scale up unicorns to addressing ways to increase trade in green goods and services between the two countries and contribute to net zero ambitions. Development of sustainable infrastructure, access to sustainable finance and navigating any trade barriers related to the sector in the country, will be top of the agenda."Gurjodhpal Singh, CEO of Tide India, commented: “Tide has had significant support from the Indian government’s ‘ease of doing business’ drive, and from a wide array of government stakeholders in India and the UK. We’re also now embedded in the country’s fintech ecosystem and its financial services industry. “We are excited to be part of the first CBI delegation from the UK to India, and applaud their efforts to support the Government of India’s commitment towards creating an even easier and business-friendly environment in the country.”

Subscribe now to Think Global People magazine and read more on global trade agreements from David Sapsted in the brand-new winter issue

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.

Related Articles