British Prime Minister David Cameron is leading a major delegation of business leaders to New Delhi and Mumbai next week as part of his drive to double the UK's trade with the emerging economic giant by 2015.
The second visit of the British prime minister is expected to bolster trade relations and also woo students to UK universities. UK colleges were severely affected as a resut of the number of students from India dropping due to stringent immigration law changes.
Despite the global melt-down, bilateral trade and investment between the two countries has been good. British Petroleum had made $ 8 billion investment in India, the single largest investment, prospecting for oil and gas.
This is going to be Cameron's second trip to India as Prime Minister and reflects his policy of building Britain's trade links with the emerging economic powers of the 21st century, including the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
He will be accompanied by the ministers of trade and commerce, defence and environment, among others and a big business delegation accompanying him will have the heads of several conglomerates, from retail to infrastructure sectors.
The timing of Cameron's visit is embarrassing as it comes in the wake of corruption allegations involving the sale of AgustaWestland helicopters to the IAF. Although the helicopters are manufactured in the UK, AgustaWestland is owned by Milan-based Finmeccanica, Italy’s biggest defence company.
In the trade and investment sector, with India remaining one of the biggest investors in UK and vice versa, Britain is looking at areas to work together including infrastructure, roads, water supplies and solar energy.
Today, MNC giants Vodafone and BP remain big investors in India and about 2/3rd of the total Indian investments in the European Union goes to the UK.
Britain is also keen to develop partnerships in the field of education and English language teaching.
With Punjab remaining an agri-major state, UK can help the state with its post-harvest technologies.
According to officials, there are opportunities in research and innovation, as UK is quite good in these fields and the two sides can cooperate to have a "winning combination".
Britain is also keen to work together in the area of life sciences and biotech and health care.
With the stringent immigration rules put in place by UK, ahead of his visit, Cameron has reportedly said that, Indians were always welcome to UK.