The discussions were held over three days, from 17th November to 19th November 2022, as part of the UK India Business Conference.
London 21st November 2022: - The UK and India are currently negotiating a free trade agreement. In this context, Europe India Centre for Business and Industry (EICBI), a London-based think tank, brought together leaders and other UK and India stakeholders to provide a platform to address concerns and showcase opportunities in the UK-India corridor. These interactions were held over three days as part of the ‘UK-India Business Conference 2022. The sessions were held at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UK Parliament, Brunel University, Croydon Council and Birmingham Council. The conference had participation from trade body leaders, business leaders, political leaders and policy leaders from India and UK.
UK India Business Conference 2022 was EICBI’s 26th activity in Europe. Over the last 11 years, EICBI and its associate organisation have organised 25 Major business summits in Europe (22 summits at the British Parliament in London and three summits at the European Parliament in Brussels), whereby EICBI & its delivery partners have engaged more than 3240 delegates from 2250 companies. These summits have allowed British MPs, European MEPs and Indian lawmakers to get to know each other and engage in discussions with companies planning to expand into these regions. Around 36 Members of Parliament from the UK Parliament, Indian Parliament and European Parliament have participated in EICBI and associated organisations’ activities over the years. EICBI has also organised numerous delegations visits to India, which have provided opportunities for British MPs and companies to understand and experience India.
The outline for the first day of the conference on 17th November was divided into two sessions.
The morning session began with a welcome and introduction from the London Chambers of Commerce and Industry members. The representative delegates of the chambers discussed sustainability, exclusivity, and post-Brexit strategy. While discussing post-Brexit strategy, delegates enquired London Chambers of Commerce about the UK's current business and employment market, labour and skill shortage issues, and the rise in remote working. Based in the financial capital London, the organisation aims to support London-based businesses to access resources and analyse business expansions while providing financial assistance to help the business scale up and explore markets while keeping climate and sustainability goals in mind. The core values of the chambers are to work by customisation and engaging with stakeholders while encouraging memberships from the local borough while linking major business cities with MoUs, partnerships and joint ventures. London chamber of commerce representative assured Indian delegation support when looking from India to invest in the UK through joint venture partnerships, trade relations and hosting networking events.
The discussion also explored nuances of cross-cultural exchange with its notions, assumptions and expectations. The discussion focused on common risks that a new company entering the UK market may face, as well as the services offered by the organisation, such as empirical assessments and business compatibility, credit, legal, and background checks, lobbying for businesses, and reporting their findings to the UK government. The two-hour-long discussion entailed business expansions, MoUs, financial access, sustainability and net-zero goals, joint ventures and partnerships while sharing business experiences. Towards the end of the session, delegates went into informal discussion and networking before proceeding to the day's second session at the House of Parliament.
Following the morning session, the conference proceeded to the afternoon session at the House of Parliament.
There were two-panel discussions at the Parliament. The conference focussed on two discussions - The Free Trade Agreement: Insights and Opportunities, moderated by Mr Stefano Boldorini and India-UK ties at 75: looking back, moving forward, moderated by Journalist Rani Singh. For both topics, passionate and intense arguments were made.
During the discussion on The Free Trade Agreement: Insights and Opportunities, the discussion revolved around post-Brexit benefits to Britain from trade with India, gains of India from the FTA and how the current political-social-economic situations while providing opportunities could also be a challenge.
During the second round of discussions on UK-India ties at 75, delegates reflected on the evolving India-UK relationship and the legacy of the Commonwealth. Lord Waverley, during the talks, quoted, “In terms of Commonwealth, we need to engage with regions, not capitals of nation-states.” The statement is symbolic of the change of outlook towards the Commonwealth and opportunities created for the UK post-Brexit.
The session on 18th November took place at Brunel University and Croydon council. At Brunel University, the discussion focussed on the engagement of businesses with academia. The Chief guest was a businessman and Member of the UK Parliament - House of Lords, Lord Rami Ranger. Lord Rami Ranger shared his inspirational life story with the audience. The other interactions at Brunel University focussed on how the business school supports SMEs through a business support programme, Digital adoption by SMEs, and International trade opportunities in the UK and How Brunel University supports market leaders. Building
on EICBI #EUIndia60Legends campaign, which had looked at 60 leaders who shaped #EUIndia#UKIndia relations over the past 60 years, EICBI recognised Lord Rami Ranger CBE, FRSA, Member of UK Parliament- House of Lords, as #UKIndiaLegend for promoting #UKIndia relations during a session of UK India Conference at Brunel University in London. #EICBI Chairperson Sujit.S.NAIR ., M.Sc, M.B.A, FRSA handing Memento to Lord Ranger
At the Croydon Council, Cllr Jeet Bains, the Cabinet Member for Planning & Regeneration at Croydon Council, welcomed the delegation and introduced the various plans of the Croydon Council. Heather Cheesbrough, Director of Planning & Regeneration & Carol Squires – Head of Employment, Skills & Economy from Croydon Council, spoke about the investment opportunities in Croydon. Other speakers who shared their inputs during the session included Mr Matt Sims from Croydon Town Centre, Mr Richard Fenn from London South Bank University and Mr Bonnie Stephensmith from Develop Croydon.
On 19th November, delegates from India travelled to Birmingham to interact with Birmingham City Council leaders. Mr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council (Equivalent to a Mayor's position for a city) and his team. Mr Ian ward formally welcomed the delegates. Mr Simon Delahunty-Forrest, the Assistant Director of Development Planning & Development at the Birmingham City Council, provided more information about the opportunities in Birmingham for the delegates.
The delegates from India recognised that this visit gave them an opportunity to understand the UK Market and explore opportunities in the region. They are keen to build up their connections during this trip to collaborate with UK companies for mutually beneficial opportunities.
Sujit S Nair, Chairman of Europe India Centre for Business and Industry, said, “In 2022. India and UK are celebrating 75 years of bilateral ties, and there is a renewed emphasis by leaders from both sides to enhance multifaceted cooperation between both countries. The relationship between India and the United Kingdom is guided by long historical and cultural ties, a deep respect for democracy, freedom, and individual liberty, a solid people-to-people connection, and a belief in a rule-based international order that allows cooperation for mutual prosperity. Through the UK-India Business Conference, we wanted to enhance this cooperation further to provide a platform for SMEs from the UK and India to connect to address the challenges and opportunities in the context of the upcoming UK-India Free Trade agreement.
The conference aimed to address concerns and anxieties faced by Indian and UK leaders and intends to provide access to the connections, financing, resources and strategic insight they need to grow their business in India and the UK. The summit’s goal was to inspire business leaders from the UK and India about the potential of UK-India relations for a deeper commercial relationship.
The photos from the conference can be viewed here - https://bit.ly/UKIBC2022