The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has chosen India as his first stop on a global mission to attract investments to the city.
Johnson, who plans to cover all the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries in the coming months, will kick off his post-Olympic drive in Mumbai next week.
His visit will also cover Hyderabad and New Delhi as he scouts for opportunities for London businesses across infrastructure, IT and software, retail, financial services and higher education.
“London loves India and the symbol of the Olympic Games – the Orbit (funded by Indian-born and London-based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal) – is also a symbol of the London-India relationship. It has been a good year for London so far and I’m sure India has been watching this dynamic, modern and friendly city as a great place to invest,” said the mayor, who flies out to Mumbai on November 24.
His delegation will include “captains of industry”, who will also lend support to representatives of London universities and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and London Chamber of Commerce during their simultaneous missions to attract Indian investment to the city.
“The sheer extent of India’s urbanisation and modernisation programme promises lots of cross-fertilisation between Indian and British firms. London, with its strength in financial services, is also a natural place from a banking perspective and provides a good model for generating finances. In the field of higher education, London’s universities are superb and we could be doing so much better in attracting Indian students,” Johnson said, stressing that immigration issues will also feature heavily in his discussions in India.
“I have been very disapproving of some measures in that area as we are losing a massive business opportunity due to counter-productive visa policies. If professionals are not able to move and travel freely, it starts being a block to growth,” he added.
India figures among the top countries from where projects have been coming into the city of London and since 2007, nearly 120 Indian companies have set up a London base.
London & Partners (L&P), the mayor’s inward investment agency which is part of the delegation, believes this figure could be significantly higher following the visit.
David Slater, L&P’s director of global sales, pointed out: “The London economy has been growing and has the ability to draw the best talent from around the world. We are here to help Indian firms, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in fulfilling their global objectives. London offers a fairly open, free market thinking and we tend not to be overly restrictive on how foreign companies repatriate their profits.
"This visit will mark an important step in thickening relations between the city and India.”
by Aditi Khanna