In an address delivered at the Astra Zeneca India Private Limited's R and D facility here, Mr Straw said ``India is the eighth largest investor in the UK. There has been much talk in the UK about companies outsourcing more and more jobs out of India. But the media is generally silent on jobs created by foreign companies investing in the UK.''
He said that over 5,000 new jobs were created in the UK during 2002, due to foreign investments in the country. People of Indian origin in Britain - 1.3 million in population - were the largest and the most prosperous ethnic community there and had made the largest retail investments in the country, he said.
Mr Straw said his government was putting in place solutions to help companies that faced controversy due to outsourcing. He added: ``If British companies benefit from working with Indian companies, it is also the British economy that benefits.''
Mr Straw, who earlier visited IT firms in Bangalore, said he had assured the companies here of increased business links between Indian and British IT sectors.
British Airways, he said, was keen on introducing direct flights to India and negotiations were on for introducing newer services connecting London and India. ``We can soon see an increase in air services between Britain and India. The current travel (between India and UK) only benefits third country carriers which des not make sense to people of either countries.''
Speaking about Indian economy, he said that while there was a feel good factor in the economy, he was keen to see the Indian markets opening up to free trade. World trade had increased by over 20 times during the past 50 years, due to liberalisation, he said. ``It is in all our interests to make this trend continue. I see this vision of a South Asia free trade area of complete breaking down of trade barriers. A single currency will be part of the vision, I think this is a vision which is achievable,'' Mr Straw said.
He added that improved business deals would become the root of a strong Indo-British partnership.