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|July 31, 1998||
British companies reaffirm investment plans for nuclear India
After the initial caution in the wake of India's nuclear tests and the subsequent US economic sanctions, British companies appear to be keen on going ahead with investments in India.
India continues to be one of the best destinations for British investments, according to a cross-section of senior officials of British private companies.
Some of them doubted the efficacy of the sanctions. ''If we go by the US, we are bound to miss the opportunity. In such a situation, there is a possibility of business contracts shifting elsewhere,'' one of them said.
They admitted that ''loss to the US may be gain for the UK and other European countries.'' Business will not stop forever. Instead of US funding, India will see funds flowing in from other countries. Instead of buying turbines from the US, European turbines will be available, they added.
For them, however, a major concern was the urgent need to ensure political will and stability, policy stability, speedy deregulation and liberalisation to revive industrial activity with focus on infrastructure and insurance sectors. They said time-bound implementation of projects, curtailment of red-tapism, sound capital market development and transparent national policy were also needed.
As Britain was at the forefront of the G-8 nations and UN Security Council decisions criticising India and Pakistan for their nuclear tests, the British companies had initially adopted a ''wait and watch'' policy. However, the British government did not impose sanctions against India and allowed British companies to have a free view about investing in India, giving a positive signal.
''As usual, business did not change. We are going ahead with investments and negotiations,'' said an executive of a leading British firm. The tests would not have any long-term impact on Indo-British trade relations and on Indian economy as a whole, he added.
The last couple of years had seen India emerging as one of the leading partners in trade and investments with Britain. It also saw manifold increase in British investments in India.
With a worldwide network, which is their innate strength, multinationals seem unconcerned as they would have no difficulty in identifying new alternatives for funding their projects in India.
''This is a temporary phase which may slightly delay investment flow. But in the long run, there will be no problems of investment,'' they said, adding that the nuclear tests-related psychological effects were gradually waning.
Hedrietta Royle, deputy chief executive of British Invisibles, a leading corporation engaged in overseas promotion of financial and other tie-ups, said, ''We see India as a very important market and that is why we want business ties between India and the UK to go on in any situation, nuke or no nuke.''
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