Indian businessmen urged to invest in Britain

Sir Richard Stagg, British High Commissioner to India interacts with the students of Asian College of Journalism

 Britain’s recession is as much an opportunity as a threat for foreign investors, according to British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg, who encouraged Indian businessmen to go global with their companies and pitched Britain as the best place to start.

Sir Richard, who was addressing a gathering of businessmen here organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry Chennai and U.K. Trade and Investment, pointed out that the fact that nearly 600 companies had already invested in the U.K. signalled how attractive an environment the U.K. is.

He admitted that the U.K.’s challenge was to maintain its position as the biggest inward investment market in Europe and concluded by saying that Britain saw the arrival of investment from India as “critical” to the U.K.’s growth.

Gayathri Sriram, Chairperson, CII Chennai zone, stressed the potential for Indian businesses to invest in the U.K. beyond the traditional interest in manufacturing, including infotainment, e-publishing and green industries. Guests were treated to a region-by-region analysis of the U.K.’s strengths by Paul Grey, Head of UKTI at the British High Commission in New Delhi.

Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis laid stresson the flexibility of the labour market and the lack of barriers to business. He also mentioned opportunities for contracts for small and medium enterprises in the London 2012 Olympics.

India is the second-largest foreign investor in the U.K. and improving foreign direct investment flows into the U.K. is hot on the British government’s agenda. The meeting comes just two weeks after Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Business Secretary Peter Mandelson agreed to increase the flow of FDI between India and Britain.

On Monday, a Global Investment Conference in London saw 250 chief executives from businesses across the world addressed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who announced a new investors’ charter setting out his government’s commitments

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