British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Chancellor George Osborne a are due in India to cement bilateral ties. They will hold meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley.
Hague and Osborne will be the first to arrive in India and would be followed by Clegg. These visits are a prelude to the proposed India tour of British Prime Minister David Cameron slated for September.
“The menu for discussion will largely comprise the UK’s investment in India’s defence sector, an early resolution of the Vodafone dispute and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s move on retrospective legislation. Besides, the visiting UK ministers are also expected to discuss Cairn’s expansion plans in India. The company intends to increase the oil output to 400,000 barrels a day from about 200,000 barrels a day. It is planning to drill 450 new wells in its fields in Rajasthan. Further, the ministers will seek details about the Modi government’s policy on multi-brand retail, especially when Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman hinted that the government won’t allow foreign players in multi-brand retail,” the Business Standard reported.
Further, the Rs 13,200-crore standoff between the tax department and Vodafone is also expected to dominate the ensuing talks. Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao had recently said he hoped for an early resolution of the dispute and the restoration of confidence among investors. Besides, Hague and Osborne will make a strong case for an early decision on retrospective taxation to further boost the confidence of UK investors.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), whose delegation returned last week from the UK, suggested in its wish list that India needed to pitch for the New Manufacturing Policy and the related National Investment and Manufacturing Zones with British companies and urge them to set up base in India to cater to both, the Indian market as well as export from India.
Further, FICCI hoped that India and the UK could explore information-sharing and dissemination on nuclear safety, nuclear waste and radiation safety management.
According to FICCI, India could showcase progress in the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor and encourage investments by SMES from the UK. Britain has already shown interest with the offer to jointly conduct a feasibility study on the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor project.