British business has capitalised on Indian reforms during the COVID crisis



British firms have capitalised on Indian business environment reform plans during the COVID crisis, according to a report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Ernst & Young.

The second annual Sterling Access Review showed that despite trade disruptions caused by the pandemic, from April to June British businesses continued to invest around £140 million in India, according to official Indian government figures.

Overall, trade between the UK and India hit £24 billion till March 2020, up by nearly 12% in one year. India invested in 120 projects and created 5,429 new jobs – making India the second largest foreign investor in the UK, after the US.

Reforms underway by the Indian government are part of a national challenge to rise up the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. These include passing a labour reform bill and plans for a new digital ‘one-stop shop’ for firms applying for licences, clearances and incentives given by central government and local states.

CBI president Lord Karan Bilimoria, said: “Building back from the economic shock of COVID-19, prime minster Modi has made clear his ambition for India to play a bigger role in the global supply chain.

“In order to accomplish this further progress will need to be made, adoption of global standards, reducing technical barriers and upping the momentum on a UK-India free trade deal will be critical.”

Adil Zaidi, partner at Ernst & Young, added: “The virus will define the new economic order, relocation, and redeployment of capital across various parts of the world – it has provided a window to regulators to bring in new regulations, revisit the existing ones and also do away with some of them.”

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