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'Tamil Nadu is one of India's most industrialised states'

By Shobha Warrier
September 09, 2015 12:08 IST
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'In Prime Minister Cameron’s words, the 'UK is India’s partner of choice' and Prime Minister Modi has described India’s engagement with the UK as an 'unbeatable combination' in forging successful partnerships that can bring immense benefits to both countries.'

Image: Global Investors Meet at the Chennai Convention Centre from September 9-10. Photograph, courtesy: GIM
 
 

India invests more in the United Kingdom than it does in the rest of the European Union combined. We encourage Indian companies from Tamil Nadu to invest in the UK too,” says Nicola Bolton, managing director (Global Trade Operations), UK Trade & Investment, who is heading a large British business delegation to Global Investors Meet in Chennai along with Bharat Joshi, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai.

The Global Investors’ Meet is Tamil Nadu government’s initiative to promote the state as India’s most preferred investment destination.

Nicola Bolton joined the civil service in 2007 and has worked in the Home Office and the Cabinet Office prior to joining UK Trade &Investment (UKTI) in June 2014.

Bullish on business prospects in India, Nicola Bolton shares her views on promoting trade and investment between India and UK, in an interview with Rediff.com’s Shobha Warrier.

You are leading a large business delegation at the Global Investor Meet in Chennai. UK being the partner country, what exactly are you looking at in this meet? 

I am delighted to be leading the UK delegation to the GIM and really pleased that we are the partner country. UK companies are looking forward to finding new business or expanding their existing business by networking with Indian businesses at the GIM.

We will be announcing new and forthcoming UK investments in Tamil Nadu at the meet.

The UK is a big part of the Tamil Nadu success story and the GIM is our opportunity to showcase that.

Our Country Session on 9 September will discuss the Global Entrepreneurs Programme, the UK-India Business Council, a new UK-India project on ease of doing business, the role of IP in supporting global investment and the entrepreneurial journey. 

UK is the largest G20 investor country in India. Which are the states do you think are investor friendly?

We believe in India. In Prime Minister Cameron’s words, the “UK is India’s partner of choice” and Prime Minister Modi has described India’s engagement with the UK as an “unbeatable combination” in forging successful partnerships that can bring immense benefits to both countries.

We want a stronger, wider, deeper partnership with India and that means engaging with states. That’s why the UK has its largest diplomatic network in India with Deputy High Commissions spread across the country including Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. 

In the case of Tamil Nadu, what do you see are its advantages and disadvantages? As a person leading a business delegation, what are the things would you like to change?

Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most industrialised and most urbanised states with a diverse economic base and a large skilled workforce with good English proficiency. So it’s no surprise that it is already home to several UK companies, across sectors.

We are at the GIM because we are not complacent. But we live in a fast-changing world and while Tamil Nadu remains attractive to UK, it’s important to realise that other states in India are becoming more competitive, as are neighbouring countries.

It's important to note that UK-India trade isn’t only one-way.  India invests more in the UK than it does in the rest of the EU combined.

We encourage Indian companies from Tamil Nadu to invest in the UK too; many such as Polaris, Ramco, TVS Logistics, Shasun Pharmaceuticals and Orchid Pharmaceuticals already have.

Prime Minister Modi has been campaigning for Make in India. Do you think India is ready to be the manufacturing hub of the world?

The UK has responded to PM Modi’s call to ‘Make in India’ by launching great collaborations in January 2015. The campaign showcases and promotes collaborations of mutual benefit across a range of sectors such as energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services and infrastructure.

One such showcase is the partnership between UK’s BP Plc and India’s Reliance Industries Ltd in developing and producing energy.

Others include CII-cloudby, Ricardo-Mahindra and Millbrook-ICAT. Johnson Matthey has made nearly 24 million catalytic converters in India.

In Tamil Nadu too, we have UK manufacturers such as GKN Driveline, Wrightbus and Rotork Controls. So, the UK is very much a part of the ‘Make in India’ story.

When the world is once again going through an economic turmoil, how do you see various countries facing the challenge?

We believe that international trade through an open, rules-based global economy offers the best way to tackle the challenges of the economic crisis.

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Shobha Warrier / Rediff.com
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