India, UK to sign 1b-pound deals during May visit

India and the UK will sign several business deals, amounting more than 1 billion pounds (Rs 8,300 crore), during the three-day visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May, her first visit outside Europe after assuming office in July.

She described her talks with her Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, as “good and productive.” Both are working, May said, to improve the livelihoods of their citizens by way of creating jobs, developing skills, investing in infrastructure, and supporting the technologies of the future.

Commenting on the smart cities programme, May said the two countries have agreed to bring together governments, investors, and experts to work together on urban development, unlocking opportunities worth 2 billion pounds for British businesses over the next five years.

She talked about the first masala bond in London in July, rupee-denominated bonds worth over 900 million pounds. “And we expect a further four bonds with a total value of 600 million pounds to be issued in the next three months. This is a vote of confidence in India’s growth story. And it’s a vote of confidence in London as the world’s leading financial centre.”

Alongside this, the UK has agreed to invest 120 million pounds in a joint fund that will lever private sector investment from the City of London to finance Indian infrastructure, she said. “So, the potential to expand the commercial opportunities for both our countries is huge. On this visit alone, more than 1 billion pounds of business deals will be signed.”

Being firm supporters of free trade, both India and the UK need to work together to break down the barriers to trade and investment, May said. “We will achieve this through the strong bonds that exist between our people, through British and Indian businesses working together, but most of all we will accomplish this because Prime Minister Modi and I are personally committed to investing in this relationship and turning this vision into a reality. I look forward to establishing a unique friendship and working together for the benefit of both our countries.”

The two countries have agreed on a new programme of cooperation to strengthen the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, May said.