Two new projects related to the Covid-19 pandemic were among key outcomes in the 10th Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) between finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and UK chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday.
A joint statement called the pandemic the “biggest threat” to the global economy in decades, and noted the responses taken by the two governments, including steps to protect lives and livelihoods.
The UK Research and Innovation and India’s Department of Biotechnology will jointly invest up to £8 million for research to understand and address the factors leading to the severity of coronavirus in South Asian populations in UK and in India.
And the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care will contribute to India’s Coronavirus Joint Response Plan and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) via the World Health Organization with an initial amount of £600,000.
This will provide a platform for further bilateral cooperation on AMR through a Fleming Fund partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the future, the statement said.
Since the first EFD between the two countries in 2007, bilateral trade has more than doubled to nearly £24 billion in 2019, officials said, adding that India is now the UK’s second largest source of investment with 120 new projects in 2019-20.
The investment relationship between the two countries supports over half a million jobs in each other’s economies. More than 800 Indian companies operate in the UK, employing more than 110,000 people.
Sunak said: “The UK’s economic and financial relationship with India has never been more important with the global challenges we face. Today we set out our ambition for even stronger ties, with an agreement that will increase investment, and create and secure jobs in the UK.”
“We are also committed to working together to lead the global economic recovery as we build back better after the pandemic,” he added.
Agreements reached on Wednesday include: a new UK-India Partnership on Infrastructure Policy and Financing which will help to open up infrastructure opportunities in India to UK commercial expertise and financing; and creating a new Financial Markets Dialogue to remove regulatory and market access barriers for UK and Indian firms.
It was also agreed to strengthen cooperation on mobilising private capital into green investment, including through a new UK-India Sustainable Finance Forum, and greening the financial system; and a fresh mandate for the industry-led India-UK Financial Partnership to explore closer financial ties in areas including FinTech; and a new partnership in Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) City.
Sunak highlighted measures to help the UK financial services industry win more business in India and welcomed the decision to allow Indian companies to list on the London Stock Exchange.
Sunak addressed industry leaders at the UK-India Investing for Growth Forum hosted virtually by the City of London Corporation and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
By Hindustan Times