The first-ever UK-India Week was launched here today with the message that a post-Brexit bilateral trade partnership has the potential to shape the global economy.
Britain's Secretary of State for international trade Liam Fox, who is set to visit India later this year for the next UK-India Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETCO), described India as “foremost” among the UK's allies and trading partners and hailed reforms initiated by the Indian government.
"We are here to look to the future and lay out our ambitions for a trading partnership that has the potential to shape the global economy," said the senior Conservative party leader.
"In particular, as we leave the European Union (EU), there is the opportunity for both countries to enhance this partnership – opening up new sectors for business and minimising barriers to trade," said the minister in charge of the UK's Department for International Trade (DIT).
The launch event at Taj Hotel in London was marked by the release of the second edition of the '100 Most Influential in UK-India Relations' – covering leading figures across business, politics, arts and culture who are seen as making a significant contribution towards enhancing the UK-India relationship.
"Collectively, these change-makers help to build a 'Living Bridge' between the UK and India – something Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has long championed and encouraged," said Manoj Ladwa, Founder & CEO of India Inc. – the organisers behind UK-India Week.
Matt Hancock, UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Indian minister of communication Manoj Sinha and the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Y.K. Sinha, were among the other prominent guests at the event.
"It is important that India and the UK ensure that the true potential of this relationship is tapped. As the UK leaves the EU and as India grows steadily, yet surely, there is a definite match between the two countries," said Sinha.
The week-long set of events are aimed at bringing together senior figures in the UK with their counterparts from India for high-level talks.
It will include a two-day UK-India Leadership Conclave tomorrow and Thursday, when ministers and business leaders from both countries will descend upon Latimer Estate in the English countryside in Buckinghamshire to address the prospects of post-Brexit partnership opportunities.
"UK-India Week celebrates the strong partnership between the UK and India and is a catalyst for promoting opportunities for future collaboration," Ladwa said.
"There is a huge opportunity for these two great countries – now equals on the world stage – to harness their shared values, trade, technology and talent to enhance prosperity at home and around the world," he said.
The conclave, backed by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as well as leading Indian companies like Infosys, Ola Cabs, and Hero Future Energies, will include a Global Investors Forum and Young Leaders Forum as well as spin-out sessions on smart cities, soft power, energy and climate change.
Alongside hard-hitting political and economic debate, the conclave – now in its fifth year – will celebrate the cultural ties between the UK and India, including an early morning yoga session in celebration of International Day of Yoga on Thursday.UK-India Week will culminate with the second annual UK-India Awards in London on Friday, to honour high-achievers within the bilateral space.