By Claire West

Business Secretary Vince Cable called on UK firms today to contribute to India’s infrastructure development as he witnessed the signing of a roads agreement alongside India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath.

Dr. Cable said:

UK firms with their world-class expertise and capabilities can be the partner of choice as India builds its capacities to fuel growth. This agreement will help to pave the way.”

The Business Secretary, who is in India at the head of a 50-strong trade delegation, met Minister Nath in New Delhi along with a delegation from the British India Road Group (BIRG), senior officials from National Highways Authority of India, Indian contractors and funders.

The discussion touched on finance, procurement, technical design and construction, and operation and maintenance. Delegates focused on the ways in which the Government of India can boost capacity while achieving savings in cost, increased efficiencies and improved levels of service, operation and maintenance.

During the meeting, Minister Nath and Dr. Cable witnessed the signing of an agreement between the UK and Indian government on greater cooperation in the roads sector.

India has 80,000 km of road that need either expanding or building.

Minister Nath has proactively sought international investment for modernising roads in India and building them to an international standard. The BIRG was formed to respond to this interest, and there has been sustained engagement from major UK companies in this sector for potential work and collaborations. Among the UK firms represented were Arup, JCB, Mott MacDonald, Balfour Beatty and Pinsent Masons.

Tomorrow, Dr. Cable will co-chair the annual meeting of JETCO, the UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee, with India’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

He will also attend the launch of the Britain-India Infrastructure Group (BIIG), with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and meet Salman Kurshid, Minister for Corporate and Minority Affairs.

The creation of the Britain-India Infrastructure Group (BIIG) was announced by the UK and Indian Prime Ministers last July to take forward business interests in India’s large scale infrastructure development programme. In addition to key Indian government and business representatives, UK business attendees will include representatives from Arup, JCB, Mott MacDonald, Balfour Beatty, Pinsent Masons, 3i, KPMG, Sembcorp, Standard Chartered, Serco, and Halcrow.