UK plans delegations to India ahead of PM May's visit

The UK will send two major delegations to India this week to strengthen business links ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's visit next month.

London, Oct 20 (PTI) The UK will send two major delegations to India this week to strengthen business links ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's visit next month.

Alok Sharma, the Indian-origin minister for Asia and the Pacific in the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), will lead a team of 28 British businesses to the Global Investors Summit in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.

The UK is a country partner for the summit, which takes place every two years to showcase the industrial strengths of the state.

"Madhya Pradesh is one of the fastest growing states in India and a great example of how the UK and India are working together for both of our benefit," said Sharma, who will make the opening speech at the summit and also hold talks with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

"The UK has been a long-term supporter of the state, through aid and other partnerships, and it now has a vibrant economy. The Global Investors Summit will allow us to build and strengthen business links in thriving areas like tourism, urban development and a dynamic manufacturing and industrial sector," he added.

Sharma's team will arrive in Indore soon after an infrastructure delegation comprising 11 British companies to Chandigarh on Thursday and Friday.

The participating UK companies have expertise in infrastructure and urban planning, architectural design and heritage conservation, transport design, water and waste management, renewable energy and services including project and programme management and construction delivery.

David Lelliott, the British Deputy High Commissioner Chandigarh, said: "We are aware how important infrastructure and urban development projects are for the people of this region, and have been engaging closely with governments at state and city level.

"The UK has much to offer, so I m delighted that this delegation representing UK expertise across a wide range of relevant fields is visiting Chandigarh. The visit underlines the interest that UK companies have in doing more in this region."

The delegation will hold roundtable meetings with the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, as well as the Chandigarh administration, to discuss plans for upcoming infrastructure projects in the region.

The British Deputy High Commission will also host an interactive session on Infrastructure and Urban Development in Chandigarh on Friday to provide an opportunity for representatives of state governments, municipalities and the private sector to learn more about the expertise and capabilities of the UK companies and to explore how best they might participate in projects in the region.

The delegations follow an announcement by May recently that she will lead her own trade mission of small and medium sized businesses from all regions of the UK when she visits India between November 6 and 8.

During her visit she will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the first India-UK Tech Summit, a showcase for partnership in technological industries, as well as hold bilateral talks.

India has been named among the priority countries the UK wants to clinch trade deals with as it officially leaves the European Union (EU) after a referendum in favour of Brexit in June.