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British trade secretary to visit India next week

January 02, 2003 21:11 IST

Britain will urge India to further open up the insurance and legal services during the three-day visit of secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt to New Delhi commencing Monday.

The two countries would also explore the possibility of working together to make the Doha development round of the World Trade Organisation a success, Hewitt told reporters in London on Thursday.

"I intend to discuss with Arun Shouri, India's Minister for Divestment and acting Minister of Commerce, the latest on the Doha development round. At the bilateral level, we want further opening up of the insurance and legal services in India and find out what more we need to do to attract further Indian investment in the UK where there are already 400 Indian companies including some very exciting and fast growing ones," she said.

As regards the Doha Development round, she said this is the crunch year as "we have a mid-term ministerial meeting in Mexico in September. I want to avail of the opportunity to hear from Shourie about India's priorities and what the European Union have to do about subsidy and tariff particularly agricultural subsidy to ensure that developing countries like India can prosper through engagement in trade."

Stating that she was looking forward very much indeed to her return to India, Hewitt said it was a year since the prime ministers of the two countries signed the New Delhi Declaration and a decade since the Indo-British Partnership was forged.

Hewitt said she would be participating in the 10th anniversary of the Partnership in Hyderabad and New Delhi through a series of events and keynote speeches.

She will be emphasising the UK government's commitment to the WTO and the importance of India as a bilateral trading and investment partner in a speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry's annual conference in Hyderabad where she will also have discussions with state Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu.

She will take the opportunity to underline the strength of key sectors within the British economy including the UK financial services sector, and the way Indian companies could benefit from investing in the UK.

During her discussions with Power Minister Anant Geete, she would explore the possibility of British investment in the Indian power sector.

"India wants to expand and modernise the energy sector, an area where we have considerable experience in restructuring our own power sector.

"We are hoping to share that experience and see whether there are opportunities for British investment in the power sector in India.

"The need for investment in the power sector is enormous in India and certainly British investors are interested in helping them."

Her programme also includes attending a Women Entrepreneurs and Achievers lunch hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry, and a lunch hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry where she will deliver a keynote speech on 'Indo-British Trade and Economic Relations: 2003 and Beyond'.

"I want to deepen and strengthen further the very successful trade between our two countries," she said.

Along with Minister of Power Anant Geete, Hewitt will inaugurate the first meeting of the UK-India Joint Power Group.

She also planned to meet Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, Minister for Telecommunications and Parliamentary Affairs Pramod Mahajan, Minister for Petroleum Ram Naik and Minister for Aviation Shah Nawaz Hussain.

The business delegation accompanying her will include representatives of British Gas, Confederation of British Industries, and representatives of power, software, banking and telecommunication industries.

H S Rao in London
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