Harnessing the power of shared history to fast-track future growth

by Sunil Patel, Anish Patel, Raj Julleekeea, Dipan Shah and Andrew McCrosson

Experts from PwC share how cultural ties and a strategic regional focus can be leveraged to strengthen the UK-India connect.

The UK and India are two of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic economies. Individually, each presents major opportunities for trade and investment. Combine them, and they’re unbeatable.

But behind the statistics, what makes the UK-India combination so powerful is the ‘living bridge’ that links the two countries. United by common attributes—together with complementary skills and capabilities—it is clear that UK and Indian businesses form natural partners.

The opportunities for UK-India collaboration are growing fast. And we’re here to apply our wealth of experience in the UK and India to help you identify and seize the right opportunities.

A bilateral growth story

We’re seeing more and more of our UK clients seek out business opportunities in India—and more and more Indian clients heading to the UK. Why? A glance at recent the data reveals much of the answer.

Already the world’s sixth largest economy, our World in 2050 analysis shows India’s growth is projected to lift it to second place by 2050 in purchasing power parity terms. It is a world leader in high-value and high-tech industries, ranking third in the world for active ‘unicorns’—start-ups valued at over $1 billion—and pioneering the development of smart cities.

India’s potential for UK businesses is also growing in other sectors. From investment in ambitious healthcare and welfare reform programmes to opportunities in one of the world’s most advanced manufacturing hubs, equipped with the latest robotic technologies.

Looking the other way, Indian companies’ success is encouraging them to invest abroad, with the UK standing out as a natural choice. Again, the opportunities are both compelling and expanding. Now, with Britain aiming to expand its trade horizons, securing future investment with India becomes a priority.

These efforts are building on a strong base. As per the UK India Business Council’s recent bilateral investment report, India is routinely among the UK’s top five inward investors, whilst exports of Indian goods have almost quadrupled to the UK since 2000. Also, as per our IPO Watch Europe, London remains Europe’s largest stock exchange, as the UK continues to be a great source of capital to fund the growth of Indian companies. Significantly, our 2019 Global CEO Survey shows that both the UK and India are among the top five most attractive markets for doing business.

Founded on people and common culture

Both economic powerhouses can, therefore, become even more powerful when their existing ties are strengthened. And a factor that makes the business relationship between the UK and India unique is the ‘human aspect’—their shared history, culture and ways of doing business over the years.

In the UK, this is embodied by the ‘living bridge’—the Indian diaspora, formed by successful, high-profile business leaders. Their achievements strengthen the cultural ties that make it easier for Indian businesses to adapt to the UK business environment.

This is the context in which we are proud to join the UK-India Week 2019 as a co-sponsor of the ‘100 Most Influential in UK-India relations’.

Furthermore, India is the world’s largest democracy and has a similar judicial system to the UK, making investment easier and safer compared to other countries.

Once UK companies do enter the Indian market, people are key to the local opportunities. India’s 1.3 billion-strong population has a median age of 27 and includes a large, educated, young workforce. Likewise, a third of Indian citizens live in cities, with a rapidly growing population of middle-class consumers eager to buy UK goods and services.

Leveraged by regional strengths

We believe ‘place’ matters: our UK Good Growth for Cities Report highlights how different regions deliver unique value economically, societally and environmentally.

The UK government mirrors this focus on ‘place’ through devolution deals, local industrial strategies and regional growth agendas. India also recognises the importance of place across its 29 different states, each with distinct dialects, cultures, industries and business environments.

An understanding of the role played by regions in both India and the UK opens up significant opportunities between them—both separately and bilaterally. ‘Knowing your place’ is crucial to unlock shared innovation, growth and prosperity between the two countries. And we can help.

Turning opportunity into action

As the value in the UK-India opportunity becomes increasingly apparent, every day, companies like yours are taking action to bolster invest and trade, with great outcomes as a result.

Again, they’re building on established strengths. As per the UK India Business Council’s report, there are already about 800 Indian businesses based in the UK, with a combined turnover of £47.5 billion and employing 110,000 people. Meanwhile, the UK has been the largest G20 investor into India, having invested £17.5 billion there since 2000, and employing almost 800,000 people.

As UK businesses seek new opportunities globally, the Indian Government is moving to attract them by taking actions to improve the ease of setting up business. And it’s making great strides: in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business rankings, India leapt 23 places to 77th.

Meanwhile, the UK is welcoming to Indian business innovation, looking to strengthen bilateral trade and investment through initiatives including the Newton Fund, which is supporting UK-India innovation partnerships to the tune of £50 million over five years.

These efforts are encouraging more companies to seize the UK-India opportunity—with UK exports to India rising by 19.3 per cent in 2018 and Indian exports forging ahead in sectors from apparel to nuclear reactors. Bilateral innovation partnerships are also flourishing, including leading-edge areas like 3D printing, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Realising India and the UK’s bilateral the potential

So, is your business taking steps to seize the moment? We’re seeing a growing number of clients in both the UK and India move to tap into the potential of bilateral initiatives.

And now, following the outcome of the recent election, new possibilities arise for India to accelerate its reforms both domestically and internationally, which may open the door to new business opportunities.

We have decades of experience in helping clients of all sizes and across all industries successfully undertake UK-India initiatives to accelerate their growth. In the process, we’ve built up expertise and insight in both markets, putting us at the forefront of advising both on what the opportunity is and how to realise it.

Wherever you’re based in the UK or India, we’ll understand your needs, issues and business ambitions—and the opportunities that a UK-India venture offers. By combining our global expertise with our on-the-ground knowledge and relationships, we’ll help you find the best approach to achieve your goals.

Sunil Patel is Chair, UK-India Group, and COO and Head of Capabilities for Technology & Investments; Anish Patel is Leader of UK-India Group; Raj Julleekeea is Tax Partner; Dipan Shah is Partner and Head of London Private Business; and Andrew McCrosson is Partner, Transaction Services, at PwC.

2019-07-02T13:19:14+00:00June 25th, 2019|2019, Home Page, Special Edition – June 2019|

About the Author: Sunil Patel, Anish Patel, Raj Julleekeea, Dipan Shah and Andrew McCrosson