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India woos Scottish firms

March 26, 2009 16:44 IST

Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Shiv Shankar Mukherjee has inaugurated an Indian visa application centre in Glasgow, making it the seventh such centre in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, Mukherjee inaugurated a visa centre in Cardiff to boost trade and tourism relations between India and Wales. Similar centres have been opened in London (two centres), Hayes, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Besides the newly-opened Glasgow visa centre, India already has a presence in Scotland in the form of a consulate general in Edinburgh.

Opening the centre in Glasgow, Mukherjee said Scotland companies should regard India's growth as a unique commercial opportunity, and not as a threat.

Speaking to the local media, Mukherjee said the Indian economy was expected to grow between 6 and 6.5 per cent this year.

He said: "India is still a job-creating economy. Much of the world's economy may be in recession, but we are reasonably cushioned by our growth rate. I strongly recommend that Scottish companies come to India to trade. If I were in Scotland, I would look at the Indian economy as a huge opportunity."

Mukherjee agreed that foreign investors had become far more cautious about investing in India, but added said that internal demand had remained strong and that major government-funded infrastructure projects were still going ahead.

Mukherjee said: "Of course there is a reduction in foreign investment - the stock market has shown that -- but our banking system has done better than in most other places. Most of our banks are already nationalised and they have been told to continue lending.

He added: "Our financial regulation also has always been tough, and we're proud of that. It has been criticised in the past for being too tough, but now it is being praised. So I would say there is still enormous opportunity for foreign investment - and there is certainly nothing to fear from our financial sector.

Noting that Scotland was a world leader in commercialising academic excellence, renewable energy, engineering and other areas, Mukherjee said companies in Scotland should take advantage of opportunities in India.

Meanwhile, Glasgow-based entrepreneur Sohan Singh Randhawa launched an Indo-Scottish business association. He said the idea was to create to create an atmosphere of commercial co-operation during recession that could open doors in both countries.

He said: I was born in India, but I've lived more of my life here. I'm proud to be Scottish."

Randhawa said he expected to create mutually beneficial opportunities in tourism, IT, engineering, energy and the export of Scottish seafood.

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