UK wants India to open retail, raise FDI limit in defence

New Delhi: Britain wants India to open up retail sector and further liberalise defence and financial services to promote economic growth and deal with the food security problem.

The issues are likely to come up for discussion during the visit of UK`s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable who is arriving in India on January 17 on a three-day visit along with a 50-member business delegation.

"We want to talk to the government about opening up areas of retail, defence where this debate is going on…

Defence Minister on Thursday made announcements about the private sector`s involvement in the defence sector," British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg told reporters.

At present, the government allows 51 per cent FDI in single brand retail and 100 per cent in the cash-and-carry (wholesale) formats, while FDI in multi-brand retail is prohibited. In defence and insurance sectors, 26 per cent FDI is permitted.

The UK has strong expertise in areas like retail, infrastructure, energy, financial services and defence.

The visit is aimed at further identifying opportunities for British and Indian companies to work together to realise ambitious goals of economic growth in areas like infrastructure development, Stagg said.

Besides, Cable would chair the meeting of the US-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (Jetco) with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.

It was set up in 2005 to tackle trade and investment barriers on both sides and promote business links. The 6th Jetco meeting was held on 4 February last year in London.

Cable would also attend the launch of British India Infrastructure Group which would be co-chaired by Permanent Secretary of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Martin Donnelly and Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla.

"There are enormous opportunities available in India`s infrastructure sector. British companies have expertise in the sector and can help in the infrastructure development of the country," Stagg said.

The government has planned to invest USD 1 trillion in the infrastructure sector during the XII Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).

Besides, Cable would hold meetings with Road and Transport Minister Kamal Nath and Minister for Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid.

"Cable will also look at corporate governance which is very important particularly at a moment when we move towards more global standardisation… We see more opportunities for both countries to work more closely together in this regard," Stagg said.

During 2009-10, India-UK bilateral trade stood at USD 10.6 billion.