Over 3,000 British Firms Investing in India Through Trade Deal

Deals worth $1.6 billion

British and Indian businesses signed trade and investment deals worth more than $1.6 billion in London on July 25, in the latest round of annual talks on boosting economic ties. Britain's finance minister George Osborne hosted his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee and business chiefs in London, signing deals worth more than £1 billion (US$1.6 billion), Britain's Treasury said.

The gathering comes after India on cleared a $7.2-billion deal for Reliance Industries Ltd to sell a major stake in two dozen of its oil and gas blocks to Britain's BP.

"Today's dialogue confirmed billions of pounds of trade deals between British and Indian companies," said Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne. "I particularly welcome the Indian government's approval, ahead of our discussion today, of the deal between BP and Reliance in the Indian oil and gas sector. This is the single largest foreign investment in India. We're also confirming today a number of smaller-scale but significant deals between other British and Indian firms. In total over 3,000 British firms are investing in or planning to invest in India."

Osborne said some of the leading business figures from Britain and India would be joining him and Mukherjee for discussions later.

London is determined to boost trade with Brazil, China and India to help drag Britain out of the financial crisis.

Mukherjee and Osborne demanded action from the European Union, the Group of 20 and the International Monetary Fund to help secure the worldwide economic recovery. Osborne said he hoped a free-trade agreement between the EU and India would be in place by the end of the year. "We should not let negotiations flounder as we work towards an ambitious agreement which will unlock significant trade and investment opportunities as well as wider European agreement on trade," he said.

"We agreed the G20 must deliver a concrete action plan for securing a strong, balanced global recovery," the chancellor added. "And we agreed the IMF should strengthen its surveillance to deliver a consistent and even-handed approach to identifying and addressing the risks to the global economy."

Monday's dialogue follows a visit to India in July 2010 which was the largest ever visit by a British government delegation to the subcontinent. The trade visit was British Prime Minister David Cameron's first port of call after coming to office in May last year. The two countries are to meet for a further round of trade talks in New Delhi next year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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