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Jaitley in London to update reforms agenda

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Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with George Osborne at No 11 Downing Street in London (File)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley woos investors in through India’s reforms agenda ….reports Kanwal Toor 

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with Chancellor George Osborne at No 11 Downing Street  in London
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with Chancellor George Osborne at No 11 Downing Street in London

Mr Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister of India, attended the 8th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in London.

His short visit to the UK included meetings with investments banks such as Goldman Sachs, talks with private investors looking to invest in India, attending joint meetings organised by FICCI, visiting the London Stock Exchange and having dialogue with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

The Indian minister met the Chancellor at No 11. The meeting, which included senior representatives of Finance Ministries, Central Banks, and key regulators, was a crucial one for UK-India economic ties. There were discussions on ways to strengthen the existing economic partnership in order to further boost trade and investment, and to build on the success of Prime Minister Modi’s recent summit with Prime Minister Cameron in the UK. Important topics discussed during the joint meeting were:

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with delegates of the conference in London
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with delegates of the conference in London

Discussions were held on concerns over how global growth is falling short of expectations and that the risks to the global outlook have increased. India promised continuous support for the G20 as the premier forum. Both sides agreed on the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).There was a joint address on cross-border tax evasion and avoidance. UK & India recognize the importance of combating climate change – was an important point brought up.

Both sides agreed to work together with the aim of developing an India-UK partnership fund under the umbrella of the NIIF. The fund would seek to increase flows of private sector capital and expertise alongside multilateral support into Indian infrastructure. Both sides welcomed the recent appointment of Alok Sharma MP as the British Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Envoy.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in London
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in London

UK & India recognise that as the leading financial centre in the world and in the view of successful issuance of Masala bonds issued by the International Finance Cooperation last year, London will be an attractive location for issuance of rupee-denominated bonds. The first such public sector rupee bond would be issued by the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) in the near future. There were discussions on the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Stock Exchange (of India).

The importance of an open legal sector and ease of access to international legal expertise as an enabler for bilateral investment was discussed in the meeting.

Speaking following the EFD, Osborne said: “The agreements we’ve made today are another important step in deepening economic ties between Britain and India. Working together across infrastructure and financial services we will be able to solve key shared challenges which will help us create growth in both of our economies.” He concluded by saying “I want to thank Arun and his team for travelling to London and for making today’s talks a success, as we bring our two great economies closer together”.

Mr Jaitley also held a press briefing at the Indian High Commission. Indian High Commissioner Mr Navtej Singh Sarna and Deputy High Commissioner Dr Virender Paul were present.

Mr Jaitley said the principal reason for the visit was meeting people in the UK for a fruitful UK-India financial partnership.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in London
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in London

The UK-India financial partnership was first formed in 2014 he said and new avenues for further cooperation were being looked into.

The agenda for the visit Mr Jaitley said was also to meet people with Indian origin for strategic investments in India. During his visit he met with fund managers, private equity managers and there was a  continues financial dialogue happening currently he confirmed. The key issue Mr Jaitley reiterated was the current global economic climate and it was imperative that India and UK set a plan to offset the impact of any impending crisis. He briefly spoke of the India infrastructure fund– and when asked to elaborate he said it’s a fund of funds. Looking at investors who would either passively invest in the fund or investment could be project based.

He highlighted the importance of the rupee bond to be listed in the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Jaitley also spoke of the growth rate in India said the maximum growth rate was visible in the Service Industry though. When asked about the EU-India Free trade agreement, he concluded by saying it was an ongoing dialogue.

Ongoing dialogues between these super powers UK – India are signs we are heading in the right direction. The current financial climate is gloomy – robust steps need to be taken to protect our economies from a re-run of 2007 subprime disaster. And The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Finance Minister are evidently working on it.

 

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