The UK’s position on the world stage is about to change forever, but it’s not because of Brexit.
In fact, it’s due to a bigger macroeconomic and geopolitical shift: the march of a country that is likely to become one of the world’s future superpowers.
A nation with a huge population, an outstanding growth rate, and an even bigger vision that has already led it to the moon and to Mars.
I’m talking of course about India, which will shortly overtake the UK as the fifth largest country by nominal GDP.
This week, I make my first visit to the subcontinent, meeting government, regulatory and industry representatives to explore how we can build on our already strong business ties.
My trip comes at an interesting time for both our countries.
In London, all eyes may be on what is going on in parliament and where we’ll be by the end of March, but here in Delhi the focus is firmly on this Thursday’s Union Budget, and later in the year, the world’s largest exercise in democracy: the Indian General Election.
Both issues will define the path of our countries for decades to come, and at present it’s anyone’s guess as to where we’ll be come the end of the year. But what is much clearer is the strong historic relationship that exists between the UK and India.
The numbers speak for themselves. India is routinely among the top five investors in the UK, and there are some 800 Indian businesses in this country employing around 110,000 people, including the State Bank of India, which opened its doors in the Square Mile nearly 100 years ago.
Looking the other way, British companies in India now employ almost 800,000 people.
Since 2000, the UK has been the largest G20 investor in the country, investing £17.5bn and creating 371,000 new jobs.
The City Corporation has long understood the importance of these bilateral ties, opening a representative office in Mumbai over 10 years ago.
Since then, trade between the UK and India has continued to grow, and is now worth some £18bn, with financial services accounting for around £350m of this.
We also boast the largest market for rupee-denominated masala bonds, with more than 25 currently listed on the London Stock Exchange, raising some $5bn.
Let’s also not forget that 1.4m people in the UK have Indian heritage – a statistic that is testament to the long historic relationship between our countries.
These links allow us to strengthen ties and share knowledge in areas like fintech, green finance, and professional services. These offer plenty of opportunities for firms on both sides, irrespective of Brexit and the potential political changes in India.
During a visit to the UK last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the City of London is of “great importance to India for accessing the global markets”, and will remain so after we leave the EU.
I’ll be remembering this statement as we explore how we can build yet further on the strength of our enviable relationship.