Mayor of London plans India visit to pitch London is Open message
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will be in Delhi, Mumbai and Amritsar at the start of December to stress that companies from Brexit-hit London remain keen to do business with India.
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) did not echo in London, which voted decisively against Brexit in June 2016. However, faced with the prospect of the British capital losing some of its shine as a gateway to Europe for Indian companies, the Mayor of London has taken matters in his hand.
Sadiq Khan announced a six-day, six-city tour of India and Pakistan to promote London as a destination of choice for trade and cultural ties.
Khan, whose grandparents were born in India and parents migrated from Pakistan to the UK, said he was “very excited” to become the first senior British politician in recent times to visit both countries at the same time during the planned before the end of this year.
“As someone whose grandparents were born in India, and whose parents moved to London from Pakistan, I feel a deep affinity for the subcontinent,” said Khan.
“What excites me most about this trip is that I know it can deliver real benefits for Londoners. Benefits in terms of business and trade, jobs and investment, and in terms of cultural and technological exchange,” he said.
While the complete itinerary of the visit is still being finalised, the mayor and his team will cover Delhi, Mumbai and Amritsar as part of the India leg of the tour and Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan.
The mayor described the visit as an “important mission” as there are many areas in which London can work with its counterparts in India and Pakistan, in business as well as tackling some of the “biggest challenges” such as air pollution and climate change on a city to city basis.
“In London, we are a beacon of tolerance, respect and diversity, which I will try my best to demonstrate,” he said, when asked if he would intervene on the issue of tensions between India and Pakistan.
On Brexit, the senior Labour Party politician said that just because the UK has voted to leave the European Union (EU) does not mean that London is closed to talent from around the world.
“I am passionate about showing that my city will always be open to engaging with partners from around the world. While the government cannot engage in trade talks until Brexit negotiations are ongoing, there is no reason why we can’t work on closer relations with the rest of the world,” he said.
Highlighting that India remains the third-largest international student market in London, Khan said that he is keen to give “confidence” to Indians that the city remains open to their talent.
“World leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Bhutto have all studied in the UK. My message will be that the underlying reasons have not changed and that I will continue to lobby the government on getting a good deal for London,” he said, pointing out that the capital had not witnessed any lack of investment from India since the Brexit vote last year.
During the visit to the subcontinent, the mayor will meet senior politicians, business leaders and city chiefs and will be accompanied by his Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal.
With his “London is Open” campaign at the heart of the visit, the delegation will also be promoting the city as a great location for Bollywood films.
“Meetings with a Bollywood star or two are planned. It pains me to see a film shot somewhere in Europe because I want them all to be shot in London. I am very competitive that way and competition is a good thing,” Khan said.
According to official figures, London is strengthening its dominance as the leading destination for Indian investment in the UK as 44 per cent of the fastest-growing Indian companies are now based in London – an increase from 39 per cent last year and 25 per cent in 2015. Of these, tech is the top sector for Indian investment, accounting for 46 per cent of all Indian investment.
A delegation of business leaders taking part in the Mayor’s International Business Programme will also meet up with Khan in Mumbai before the members move on to cover Hyderabad and Bangalore under Agrawal’s leadership.
Besides business ties, security issues around counter-terrorism will also be touched upon but Khan stressed that he did not want the relationship between London and India be seen through the “prism of security” as he was keen to promote his first visit to the subcontinent as London mayor as a positive one.
- Indian companies invest more in the UK than they do in the rest of Europe combined, and employ 110,000 – with six of the largest Indian employers based in London.
- India is the third-largest international student market in London (after China and America), with students from India contributing £130m per annum to the London economy.
- From 2005 to 2016 the UK was the second-largest destination for Indian FDI (behind only the US) – attracting 350 projects (9.6% of all of India’s FDI projects) that invested £9.2bn and created 41,100 jobs.
- London is strengthening its dominance as the leading destination for Indian investment in the UK as 44% of the fastest-growing Indian companies are now based in London – an increase from 39% last year and 25% in 2015.
- Tech is the top sector for Indian investment, accounting for 46% of all Indian investment.
- In February, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published research showing that the UK remains the single-largest G20 investor in India and supports close to 800,000 jobs in India.
Between 2008 and 2016, Film London has tracked more than £257million of inward investment from Indian film productions.