PM announces £1bn of new commercial deals on visit to India, hailing 'powerhouse partnership'

Thu 21 Apr 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk india

Boris Johnson will use his two-day visit to India announce £1bn in new investments and export deals that will create almost 11,000 jobs in the UK, the government has announced.

The PM will confirm deals between UK and Indian businesses in multiple sectors, including software engineering and health, as he arrives in Gujarat today.

‘Powerhouse partnership’

Johnson hailed a “powerhouse partnership” between the countries, and said: “As I arrive in India today, I see vast possibilities for what our two great nations can achieve together. From next-generation 5G telecoms and AI to new partnerships in health research and renewable energy – the UK and India are leading the world.”

Johnson is meeting Indian PM Narendra Modi tomorrow and will seek to drive progress in negotiations on a UK-India free trade agreement.

New investments

According to a government statement, the deals will include:

  • A new Switch Mobility electric bus research and development centre in the UK and the opening of their Asia Pacific headquarters in Chennai, generating over 1,000 jobs in the UK in India
  • Investment from Indian manufacturer Bharat Forge and electric truck maker Tevva Motors to expand to a new site in the south-east and create 500 new jobs
  • Indian software company Mastek investing £79m to create 1,600 jobs in the UK
  • Business consultancy FirstSource opening new offices in South Wales, the Midlands and the North-East and North-West
  • Hertfordshire-based firm Smith & Nephew agreeing a major export deal to sell robotic surgical systems in India, and Northamptonshire business Scott Bader opening a new resins factory to supply renewable energy companies in south-east Asia
  • UK-based satellite communications company OneWeb will sign a contract for satellite launches with New Space India Limited

Science and tech

A major new science and tech collaboration will be confirmed, including:

  • a digital health partnership
  • a joint investment fund for Indian deep-tech and AI start-ups
  • new AI scholarships for Indian students
  • a £6m investment from AI healthcare specialists Qure-ai to open a UK centre of excellence

Russia looms

According to the FT, Johnson will avoid talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with India having so far been muted in its response to the invasion while remaining an active business partner of the aggressor.

Reuters reports that Britain will offer India an alternative to reliance on Russian defence equipment and oil.

India depends on Russia for more than half its supply of weapons amid a Himalayan border standoff with China and ongoing tensions with Pakistan.

Visas

The PM is also expected to be more conciliatory on the issue of more visas for Indian workers coming to the UK – something India wants as part of trade negotiations which enter their third round in India next week.

“We have a massive shortage in the UK, not least in experts in IT and programmers,” he told reporters, including the Telegraph.

Deal by autumn

On a visit to a JCB factory in Gujarat, the PM said the UK hoped to agree a free trade agreement this year, reports the Guardian.

“We’re hoping to complete another free trade agreement, with India, by the end of the year, by the autumn,” he said.

However, one Indian official has warned that the country also sought the removal of barriers that restricted Indian services and manufacturing access to the UK, in areas such as pharmaceuticals.

The UK signed the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership last year and launched formal talks this year with ambition that trade between the countries can be boosted by £28bn by 2035, the BBC reports.