The UK and India have long shared very close relations represented by a living bridge of people, language, and culture. We are proud to be home to a 1.5 million strong Indian community.
There is no better example of this living bridge than the current UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who himself is a Briton of Indian origins who took up post at the beginning of Diwali.
Yet there is more we can do to deepen trading relations. The UK is the sixth largest investor in India, whilst India stands as the second largest investor in the UK.
This investment relationship supports over half a million jobs across both economies.
Meanwhile The London Stock Exchange is the leading international listing venue for rupee-denominated bonds, having listed 48 bonds which have raised $7.16 billion.
This is a good start but so much more could still be done. We hope the ongoing free trade deal negotiations will include a ground breaking financial service provision which would allow the UK to help India access one of the most liquid and diversified global capital pools on the best possible terms to drive its growth.
However even without the trade deal there is still a lot our countries could do to improve cooperation particularly in green finance, fintech and asset management.
On green finance, for India to achieve its net zero targets, it will need to unlock the private capital. This is an area where the UK’s world leading expertise in green finance can assist.
At the City of London Corporation, we are currently collaborating with the UK government, Climate Bonds Initiative, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and India’s National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
A significant outcome of this is the Green Growth Equity Fund, which launched with an initial £240 million fund jointly financed by the UK and Indian governments.
The fund has already invested in excess of £500 million with the help of private investors. The City of London Corporation has also set up the India UK Sustainable Finance Working Group with FICCI, co-chaired by HSBC and Macquarie to bring together private sector suppliers of capital to discuss practical actions to mobilise green finance particularly in infrastructure.
This is just one area where the City of London is actively assisting India in its development.
India has a flourishing fintech ecosystem and the UK’s strength in tech, digital trade and investment provides much scope for collaboration. There are now more than 250,000 operations and technology professionals in India working directly for the UK financial services sector. The creation of international fintech bridges (five currently) have helped to ease cross border friction and support businesses to scale up.
Fintech businesses need access to top talent and skills from financial experts to data analysts and this is being enabled by the UK government’s rollout of visas, including the new Scale-up visa and Migration and Mobility partnership with India.
As we approach the conclusion of UK-India trade deal talks both UK and Indian businesses need to make commitments that will unlock investment such as greater financial regulatory cooperation, actions to enable smoother digital trade and free flow of data, ease in movement of people, recognition for UK and Indian professional qualifications, and strong investment protection provisions for UK businesses operating in India.
Both sides have made great progress in these areas.
At a time when much of the world is seeing the rise of geopolitical tensions, the UK and India have decided to pursue a different path of cooperation, peace and low carbon growth. This new golden era of UK-Indian relations will not only unlock a vast untapped potential of economic prosperity of both countries but also serve as a shining example to the rest of the world.
The writer is The Lord Mayor of the City of London