London, Jan 11 (PTI) The UK government today announced the doubling of its national credit support for UK businesses exporting to India, during the visit of Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Prabhu held talks with Britains international trade minister, Liam Fox, in London as part of the 12th�meeting of the UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) to discuss greater cooperation between the two countries and identify barriers to trade and investment.

As part of the deliberations, Fox�announced that the UKs national export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), has more than doubled its financial support to enable UK businesses to trade with India.

This means 4.5 billion pounds will now be available for UK companies exporting to India as well as Indian buyers of UK goods and services.

The minister said the UK government would work closely with India to break down barriers to boosting trade, which includes the latest doubling of trade finance support for UK exporters and Indian buyers of British goods and services.

UKEF support is made available in Indian rupees, allowing Indian buyers to access finance in their own currency and making sourcing from the UK even more competitive.

He said, “India is the worlds seventh-largest economy and the fourth largest investor into the UK, while UK investment in India grew by 8.8 per cent in the year to 2016.

“For the first time in 40 years, the UK is preparing for its own independent trade policy, and expanding our bilateral trade and investment with India will be central to that task. Its in our shared interest to boost prosperity, generate jobs, develop skills, and enhance the competitiveness of both our countries,” he said.

According to the UKs Department for International Trade (DIT), the India-UK trading relationship was worth 15.7 billion pounds in 2016, with UK exports to India amounting to 5.8 billion pounds.

Indian foreign direct investment (FDI) in the UK was worth 1.5 billion pounds in 2016, while UK investment into India rose to 13.2 billion pounds in 2016.

“There is huge potential to expand bilateral trade and investment as the UK prepares to leave the European Union (EU),” DIT said.

UK and Indian businesses, including UK engineering consultancy Arup and Indian infrastructure firm Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), also met alongside the JETCO to discuss ways of boosting cooperation in growing sectors such as�advanced manufacturing and smart cities.

While the UK cannot strike any new bilateral pacts until the official Brexit process in complete, the two countries had agreed�to set up a new joint working group on trade at the last meeting of JETCO in New Delhi in November 2016 to work towards removing barriers to trade.

The meeting in London was aimed at building on progress made by the UK-India trade working group.

“A lot of interest and positivity has been generated in London today by the Joint Trade Review. Initiated in mid-2016 by the Indian and UK governments and aimed at establishing immediate areas of improving trade, it is still at its early stages.

“Nonetheless, there are already really positive signs and, hence, anticipation for a renewed and ever deepening India-UK economic partnership,” said UK India Business Council CEO Richard Heald, who was present at the discussions here.

The UKIBC welcomed a focus on food and drink, pharma, healthcare and Medtech, and IT and ITES as the three core sectors for closer India-UK cooperation.

“There are huge opportunities in these three areas. These are areas where we can leverage our individual strengths and at the same time build on those collaborations which already exist,” he said.

The JETCO forms a precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to be hosted by the UK in April and expected to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Heald highlighted that such ministerial visits on both sides are an opportunity to reflect on the changing dynamics of the 52-member bloc and “to make a step change in the multilateral/bilateral relationship that underpin the Commonwealth”. PTI AK KUN

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