By Max Clarke

Business Secretary Vince Cable is leading a delegation of 50 British companies next week to India, one of the world’s most dynamic economies, to strengthen the enhanced partnership between the two countries and co-chair trade talks.

Among the companies going are Rolls Royce, Barclays, Delcam, Balfour Beatty, 3i, ARM Holdings, Jaltek, TTP and Scotland’s Colleges International.

The visit follows on from the mission led by Prime Minister David Cameron in July last year. Dr Cable, who was part of that trade mission, will be the first UK Cabinet Minister to visit this year.

Business Secretary Vince Cable:

“Last year, we set out a broad framework for our enhanced partnership. In 2011, we are moving beyond that, rolling up our sleeves and working together.

“India is very important to the UK, and the UK has the expertise to develop the capacities it needs to fuel its growth. Our business relationship is already strong, but it could be stronger.

“India is focused on its drivers for growth and development such as infrastructure, education and skills. That’s why I am taking a trade mission with me and talking to British businesses in India that can help to meet that demand.

“I am also passionate about encouraging more British firms of all sizes to look to India as a place of real business opportunity, and more small Indian companies to look to the UK as their European destination of choice.

“This visit will significantly strengthen our enhanced partnership for the benefit of British and Indian companies, for the benefit of our economies, and for the benefit of both our peoples,” he said.

The UK’s bilateral trade with India is currently worth around £11.5bn. Exports have continued to grow since the July visit with latest figures showing a rise of 35% in UK exports to India in the year to October.

During the visit, the Business Secretary will meet businesses and Indian Government officials. In Mumbai, he will attend the launch of Smith Medical Group’s Indian subsidiary. In Delhi, he will co-chair Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETCO) talks with Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

Infrastructure will be a major theme of the visit. He will meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the first meeting of the British-India Infrastructure Group and also meet India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath. The UK and India are looking at how to deepen collaboration on infrastructure, and how to exchange knowledge and expertise.

Another key theme is investment. There are around 700 Indian companies with investments in the UK, and the UK receives more than 50% of India’s investment into Europe.

To illustrate the potential of the Indian market, this week, Airbus, which employs 10,000 people in the UK, announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian airline IndiGo for the supply of 180 A320 and A320 NEO aircraft. It is estimated that the UK has approximately 20% of the workshare on the A320.

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