Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, last week joined the Prime Minister David Cameron, who led a trade delegation to India on a three day visit between 18 – 20 February 2013 which covered Mumbai, Delhi and Amritsar.
This was the biggest ever trade mission, lead by any British Prime Minister in modern times, and fittingly underlined the UK government’s commitment to increasing trade with India, which is predicted to grow into one of the world’s three largest economies over the next 35 years.
There were over 100 senior business executives on the delegation, representing big British companies like Rolls Royce, Serco, JCB, Diageo, Standard Life, BAE Systems, Atkins and HSBC, as well as a good range of small and medium sized companies. The education sector, a major British strength and offering huge export potential, was also well represented by Vice-Chancellors from a number of leading British universities.
The trip concluded with a visit to Amritsar in the state of Punjab where the Prime Minister visited the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion, and then paid his respects at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial which marks the location where hundreds of unarmed Indian protesters were killed by British soldiers in 1919. David Cameron was the first serving British Prime Minister to visit Amritsar and described one of the bloodiest massacres in British colonial history as "a deeply shameful event".
This was the second visit David Cameron has made to India as Prime Minister, the first taking place within weeks of the Coalition coming to power. The UK is currently on track to double trade with India between 2010 and 2015, with the latest
figures indicating UK exports to India are up by more than 50%.
Alok Sharma said: “The business case for increasing trade with India is clear, it is already one of the biggest markets in the world, has one of the fastest growing economies and is set, in the coming years, to emerge as one of the first amongst equals in the world economic order. It was therefore fitting that the Prime Minister took such a large business delegation, clearly demonstrating the British intention to grow our trade with India significantly.”
Alok continued: “In addition to supporting British businesses on the delegation, I also chaired a session on financial services reform involving both British and Indian financial services companies and regulators which explored the potential for future bi-lateral opportunities.”
Photos: (1) Alok Sharma with the Prime Minister at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
(2) Alok Sharma at the Prime Minister’s side with the largest ever UK trade delegation in Delhi