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India to be one of 3 economic majors: London mayor

By H S Rao in London
November 14, 2007 10:45 IST

India would be one of the three major economic powerhouses in the world in the next two decades, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has said.

"I envisage that within the next 20 years, the three most important persons in the world will be the President of China, the President of America and the Prime Minister of India," Livingstone, who is embarking on a six-day visit to India from next Sunday, told reporters on Monday night.

He said he would be leading a delegation of high-powered 80-member London "ambassadors" including Lord Sebastian Coe and Paul Deighton, Chairman and Chief Executive of London Olympics 2012 Organising Committee.

During his visit, the mayor will open the London India Office in Delhi and the London India Office in Mumbai to promote business, trade, culture and tourism between the city and India and sign at least three agreements including a city-to-city partnership agreement with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, a tourism agreement in Delhi and an agreement between Film London and the Film and Television Guild of India.

The mayor, who will visit the Film City in Mumbai, said last year Indian film producers produced 40 movies in London and there was a vast scope to increase it. He will host a showcase of London and Indian creative industries in Mumbai with special guest Amitabh Bachchan, the Bollywood superstar.

In Delhi, Livingston, whose delegation would also include Peter Hendy, Commissioner for Transport for London, Michael Charlton, Chief Executive of Think London, James Bidwell, Chief Executive of Visit London and Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London, will visit the Raj Ghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.

Preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012 will also figure in his discussions with Indian counterparts.

Describing Mumbai as one of the greatest financial centres, the mayor said, "We will be delighted to work with the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai to improve the transportation there since Britain has 150-year long expertise in the field."

Besides New Delhi and Mumbai, the mayor will visit Amritsar and meet Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.

The mayor's tour will also build on the cultural links between London and India.

Livingstone, who organised a three-month long 'India Now' Festival in London recently, said "India is a rising economic superpower. It has a growth rate of over nine per cent a year, 1.2 billion people and it already accounts for the second highest number of inward investment projects into London after the US.

"Last year, India was one of the three countries accounting for the majority of world economic growth."

He said, "the Indian community is already the largest minority ethnic community in London and London's strength as the most globalised city is helped immensely by its Indian community -- there are already 10,000 Indian-owned businesses in the capital.

Cultural interaction between India and London is already strong and is going to increase even further. "The aim of this visit is to continue to build on and reinforce these links to strengthen a deep-rooted and special relationship between London and India."

The mayor will also take part in a series of meetings, seminars and conferences on the theme of "London and India: Partners in Globalisation".

The Partners in Globalisation visit is a key part of the mayor's strategy to promote London as a pre-eminent global business centre. The emerging markets are particularly important to this strategy due to their rapid growth rates.

Last year the Indian economy grew at a rate far faster than the world economy as a whole -- 9.2 per cent.

The growth of the Indian economy is already having a direct impact on London. According to Think London, the capital's foreign direct investment agency, India already has the second largest number of foreign direct investment projects to London after the US.

In 2005-06, India accounted for 18 per cent of all foreign direct investment projects, an increase of six per cent over the same period in 2000-01.

The UK capital has become a gateway to Europe for Indian companies, and many businesses have chosen the UK capital city for their European and UK offices. Over the past three years, Think London assisted over 50 Indian firms to set up here.

Twenty-seven companies incorporated in India are listed on the London Stock Exchange with a collective market value of 4.4 billion pounds.

The education sector is also important to London's economy with overseas students contributing about 1.5 billion pounds to UK GDP in 2005-06. In London the number of students from India has increased from 2,190 in 2001 to 4,320 in 2005.

The mayor will speak at a number of conferences and hold meetings with key Indian businesses including Tata, ICICI Bank, BCCI and the CII.

H S Rao in London
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