DEPUTY PRIME Minister Nick Clegg will hold talks with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi today as he leads a UK trade mission to India to boost links between the two nations.
He wants to capitalise on the newly-elected government’s focus on economic growth to forge a number of deals, particularly in aerospace, retail and science. Over three days, the 40-strong delegation, which includes Mr Clegg’s new unpaid India business adviser Lord Dholakia, will meet counterparts in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Senior Government figures have made a series of trips to India since the coalition came to power in 2010 in an effort to create a new “special relationship” and strengthen trade with the emerging economic powerhouse.
Chancellor George Osborne and then-foreign secretary William Hague visited in July, while David Cameron has made three trips to India.
Mr Clegg’s visit will be the first since Mr Modi was elected in May.
He said: “I am delighted to be leading the first trade delegation to India since the election of the new government. Prime Minister Modi has been very clear that his absolute priority is to get the wheels of the Indian economy moving, to create more jobs, boost trade and pursue greater prosperity. There is already £16 billion of trade every year between India and the UK. India invests more in the UK than it does in the rest of the European Union combined, and no country in the G20 invests more in India than Britain does.
“In addition, there are the historic cultural links. The rich tapestry of British community, business, cultural and sporting life is hugely enriched by our links with India. Thousands of students take part in exchange programmes such as the UK-India education and research initiative, and I look forward to seeing how we can forge even deeper and stronger bonds between our people.”
Energy Secretary Ed Davey will travel separately to Hyderabad on Wednesday to build links over energy and climate change.
It comes as an Indian newspaper poll says more than 70 per cent of Indians are satisfied with the leadership of Mr Modi.