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Last Updated : Jul 02, 2020 11:20 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Leading Brexiteers call for ‘special relationship’ with India, warn against trade ties with ‘malignant’ China

In a report, the pro-Brexit think tank urged the British government to diversify Britain’s trade away from a stagnating Eurozone and a Chinese economy controlled by an increasingly belligerent government and instead forge a ‘special relationship’ with India.


In a bid to diversify post-Brexit trade away from the usual suspects – Europe and China, Brexit chiefs have urged the United Kingdom to instead forge a ‘special relationship’ with India.

In its recent study, pro-Brexit think tank, the Foundation for Independence, urged the British Government to diversify Britain’s trade “away from a stagnating Eurozone and a Chinese economy controlled by an increasingly belligerent government and instead forge a ‘special relationship’ with India.”

“Our exit from the European Union holds great promise for Britain’s underdeveloped trade relationship with India. At 17th, the UK is languishing far outside the ranks of India’s key trading partners with bilateral trade worth a modest £20.5 billion. This must be addressed,” said John Longworth, Foundation Chairman and former Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Economically, the report urged the government to reduce the country’s dependency on China in key areas, including the import of pharmaceuticals and Chinese direct investment in infrastructure, which pose national security threats to the UK. The study is highly critical of the Government’s decision to grant Chinese telecom giant, Huawei, inclusion in the delivery of the UK’s 5G network. To minimise infrastructure dependency, it calls on the Treasury to be more forthcoming in the provision of finance to meet the country's infrastructure investment needs itself.

Adding that there is a “wealth of untapped opportunity”, Longworth said the two countries could build trade relations in key areas such as business services, travel, telecommunications, IT and others.


"The drive to strengthen our already special relationship – steeped in centuries of cultural and historic ties - extends beyond simple trade ... It is our firm belief that post-Brexit Britain has both a moral and a vested interest in supporting India ... enhancing bi-lateral trade relations between the UK and India represents part of the wealth of opportunity only available to the UK and India now that Britain has left the European Union," he said.

The report released this week offers a “radical new vision for an independent Britain capable of unlocking new potential and forging a bold new foreign and trade strategy in the Indo-Pacific region,” as per a statement from the think tank.

The report also called upon the government to shift focus to stable, reliable, fast-growing partners, around the Pacific rim and those with similar economic development profiles to the UK’s, such as South Korea and Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Commonwealth friends: Australia, Canada and New Zealand and in particular, India.  The study is the first in a series of papers encouraging the UK to embrace Brexit by forging new trade relations.

Forging a UK-India “Special Relationship”

As per the report, India’s rapidly expanding demand in sectors central to the UK economy, such as financial services – matched with its expanding middle or ‘consumer’ class – makes the country a key priority for trade development post-transition.

With Indian Outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) tipped to surge in the coming years, encouraging bilateral trade should be a core focus for the Department for International Trade and on a par with the allocation of resources to EU and US trade development, it said.

“India’s recent recommitment to the Commonwealth as a vehicle for economic collaboration offers an effective stage through which to cultivate improved trade links,” it added, outlining measures for collaboration in commerce, education and research forums.

It also urged the government to make it easier for Indian students to study in the UK by relaxing student visa restrictions for the estimated 130 million Indian students who, by 2030, will be of a university-age; besides also having mutual recognition of masters’ degrees, online education, and establishing overseas university branches can further enhance these cultural links.
First Published on Jul 2, 2020 11:17 am