With tremendous opportunities for the taking, majority of British companies are looking to increase their investments in India even as there are areas that require further improvement in ease of doing business, according to the UK India Business Council. A grouping that represents around 100 companies from India and the UK, the council’s Group CEO Richard Heald also said the application of “liberalisation” in India is not uniform as certain measures are not percolating down the system. “Companies which are engaged with India are increasing their engagement… there are tremendous opportunities for the UK businesses of all sizes and complexion, both now and in the foreseeable future,” he told PTI in an interview. He said that a vast majority of the UK companies are looking to increase their presence and investments in India. The UK is a leading investor in India, with investments worth around USD 24 billion, excluding foreign portfolio inflows from the UK, among others, as per estimates cited in the council’s third annual Ease of Doing Business in India survey report. “There are areas where we have seen significant improvements and there are areas where we would like to see further improvements,” Heald said, adding that factors such as electricity connectivity and digitalisation are hugely positive.
About the overall business climate, Heald said there are a lot of positives that are coming through but is not necessarily percolating down the system. “The application of liberalisation is not uniform. The messaging among politicians and senior bureaucrats is very strong and positive but as you move down, the execution is not good as we would like,” he said. As per the survey, UK businesses remain “largely positive” about improvements in ease of doing business in India, but there are concerns about the pace and execution of reforms.
To a query about how the bilateral ties could be after Brexit, Heald opined that there is a “special relationship and it could be even more special relationship”. “There is a lot the UK can learn from India and what we are seeing is companies coming here and investing in process and product development which has benefits back in the UK. It improves the efficiency of our businesses. (There are) mutual benefits,” he said. The United Kingdom has decided to move out of the European Union, a move which is commonly known as Brexit.