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Trade and Investment: India

Volume 646: debated on Thursday 13 September 2018

2. What recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of UK trade and investment with India. (906890)

India is a key partner for the UK, and bilateral trade between the UK and India was £18 billion in 2017, up 15% on 2016. The UK and India are among the top four investors in each other’s countries, and the Secretary of State will be visiting India in December to attend the annual joint economic trade committee and to continue to build on this important relationship.

In my constituency, we are lucky to have a lot of firms doing business with India, which is an incredibly exciting market. Will the Minister tell us a bit more about what the Government will do to try to drive further trade, particularly between the east midlands and India?

I am pleased to say that trade between the east midlands and India is performing well and grew by 11.4% in 2017, with success stories such as Royal Enfield in Bruntingthorpe. We are supporting visits from the midlands engine to India, and I was in India with Prime Minister Modi at the Move Global Mobility conference only at the weekend.

If the Minister was with Mr Modi at the weekend, I expect that the subject of student numbers came up. India will want something in return for an expanded trade and investment programme, so what exactly is the Minister offering? I am not against increasing student numbers, but is he? Will he be honest with the British public?

That is an interesting question from the Opposition, as is so often the case, given that, from memory, student numbers from India grew by 32% last year. There is absolutely no cap on Indian students coming here, and I would hope that the hon. Lady, representing her constituents and the wider country, would promote the positive message that we are open to Indian students. There is no cap, students are growing in number, and we want more of them.

The potential for growth in trade between India and the UK is enormous and should be backed up by further trade missions. However, may I suggest that the next trade mission should take Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury? He would be able to talk to some of India’s incredible entrepreneurs and perhaps learn about wealth creation and the fact that greater trade between India and the United Kingdom will lift millions of Indians out of poverty.

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. There are so many things that we can do jointly with India. As I said, we had the mobility conference at the weekend, which was about cleaning up our air and our transport. India has set targets for 2030 to ensure that at least 30% of vehicles produce zero emissions, and we have said that 100% must produce zero emissions at the tailpipe by 2040. Working together, we can do more.

I thank the Minister for his response to that question. The cultural, historical, economic and educational links between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and India are enormous. Will the Minister outline how he believes that will continue post-Brexit? Will he also ensure that all the regions of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can benefit?

The Board of Trade was established precisely to send out a message about the benefits of trade and relationships with countries such as India to every part of the United Kingdom. We plan to work with Northern Ireland to ensure that it is part of the whole suite of offers that we provide using our posts right around the world.