Large British companies and multinationals are already established in India, but only 15% of UK’s SMEs have any international exposure. British SMEs hold some important core technologies for India’s development. India is looking for hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in fintech, IT, franchising, accounting and taxation services, legal and fiduciary services, ministerial advice, engineering and manufacturing. To help realise this investment, the High Commission of India and the UK-India Business Council have co-operated to form AccessIndia (AIP), an innovative programme to introduce and mentor SMEs into the Indian market. AIP is unique in that it is completely complimentary and offers unprecedented access to market information and a comprehensive guiding service to market access. AIP has launched a publication with useful case histories and advice. The team is also inviting questions and experiences. In the last three years, India has received foreign direct investments worth US$175 billion. Government of India and AIP are committed to improving India’s ranking in the ease of doing business. According to the World Bank Group index, in 2017, India is ranked 130th overall. AIP, with its various partners, including PWC and the Governments of Wales and Scotland, will foster innovation, enhance skill development, ensure best practice and focus on 25 crucial sectors of the economy.

Following up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “Make in India”, Indian Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik revived a previous initiative with Germany, after some tweaking to make it UK user-friendly, the programme was launched. AIP aims to identify 40-50 high-potential UK SME companies and assist them to establish themselves in India; the facilitation programme provides introductions, networking opportunities and market entry support services, such as strategy advisory, operational market entry support, intellectual property registration, tax and legal support, financial services, project financing, M&A, location services, technology collaboration, and facilitation of approvals from Central and state agencies. So far, through top level consultancies, AIP has been invited to present to clients considering investment in India and already five SME companies are set to take up the programme.

Presently, the UK Department of Trade and Industry and Government of India are conducting a review of the existing economic and trade policy. Once the wrinkles and problems have been ironed out, the result will be submitted in January 2018. 

Why wait for Brexit and free trade? It is people to people co-operation that makes the difference; the bilateral opportunities for Britain and India are already there.

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