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Modi visit shows strength of Britain as trading nation

13 Nov 2015

But flawed immigration system is undermining UK-India ties

The Institute of Directors has welcomed the historic visit of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to the UK and called on the government to make sure its trade and immigration policies support Britain’s global ambitions.

Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors said:

“Narendra Modi’s visit and the promise of billions in investment deals is a vote of confidence in the British economy from one of the world’s most important developing nations. That Asia’s two most populous nations have visited Britain in the past month demonstrates the remarkable enthusiasm that exists around the world for doing business in Britain.

“While Britain and India have strong investment links, there is still a vast amount of untapped potential for British businesses. IoD members report strong demand in India for our manufactured goods and world class professional services. Yet exports to India accounted for just 2.2% of Britain’s total in 2014. It is imperative that David Cameron urges Mr. Modi and the European Union to speed up negotiations over an EU-India trade deal to unlock more export opportunities for UK firms and build stronger ties between us and the hundreds of millions of Indian consumers.

“At a time when we are rolling out the red carpet for world leaders, we must make sure we are not closing the door behind them. The Government’s immigration policy is currently undermining our claim to be an open, trading nation. The IoD has joined calls for a Comprehensive Immigration Review to ensure government policies balance public concerns with the needs of business.

“International students should be removed from the numbers immediately. The public do not see them as immigrants and they underpin the strength and vibrancy of Britain’s world-leading education institutions. But anti-immigration rhetoric and restrictive post-study visa rules are deterring students, particularly in India, from coming to Britain. The number of Indian students heading to Germany has doubled in the last five years, while the number coming to Britain has halved. This hurts our universities now and will damage our economy in the future.”

  • 15% of IoD members export to India, making it the second largest market in Asia, behind China for IoD exporters.

In 2009/10, 38,500 Indian students enrolled in UK higher education establishments. In 2013/14, this had fallen by 49% to 19,750.

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