Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma, in a meeting with George Osborne, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK, said, “We are very clear that there is no revisiting on multi-brand retail. The government is trying to build a wider political consensus after which notification will be issued.” Sharma and George Osborne also jointly addressed CEOs from India and United Kingdom where Osborne praised India’s contribution to the UK economy. He also assured Sharma that UK will continue to provide an open investment climate. Osborne asked Indian government to be more ambitious in retail liberalisation. On India-EU deal, Osborne said that UK remains a strong advocate of the deal and will provide all help for an early conclusion of the deal. Osborne also urged an early and amicable solution to the Vodafone issue. On Doha round, Sharma said that whatever is available on the table represents a fine balance, and that collapse of the Doha Development Round will be catastrophic for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). “We must keep on striving for a balanced outcome,” said Sharma.
Anand Sharma, in a recent bilateral meeting with the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, said that that the bilateral trade and investment between the two nations is getting impacted by difficulties in obtaining visas. Sharma mentioned that they want to make sure that business visitors/service providers are facilitated to travel to the UK to explore business opportunities and execute business contracts. He highlighted as to how the IT industry, in particular, is getting impacted by such issues as delivery of services is dependent on movement of professionals at short notice. Sharma impressed upon the UK government to carefully take into account the gains arising to the UK economy from contributions by the highly skilled workers from India. According to Sharma, any unreasonable cap would affect the productivity of around 700 Indian companies which provide substantial employment in the UK. Earlier in April 2012, the UK government had stopped the facility of Post Study Work Visa to Indian and other non-EU students which till now allowed them to work for two years after completion of their graduation/post-graduation.
Sharma also conveyed to Vince Cable that the negotiations with the EU are underway for a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in which 14 rounds having been completed till now. Sharma said that both the sides have engaged intensively to find solutions on outstanding issues which are mutually beneficial and acceptable. He also mentioned that a ministerial review of the negotiations was held on June 26, 2012 at Brussels and that both sides are committed to finalising a balanced agreement by 2012.
Earlier, Sharma, speaking on the issue of FDI in retail, said: “It will be our political decision when to notify it. We can`t wait for unanimity, or we will wait forever. We have taken a decision. We are committed to it. We are trying to build a consensus until which it has been held in abeyance. It will be a political call.”
Speaking during a session on Global Trade Partnerships at The Global Investment Conference, where Cable and Olusegun Aganga, minister of trade and investment, Nigeria were present, Sharma also said India is “going in for diversification, intensifying our engagement with Africa, when you look at both the trade and investments, value addition and job creation. That’s what the Indian industry and investments are doing.” He also urged, “We should be looking at trade facilitation at the WTO, but also a comprehensive LDC package to begin with, but not dilute our commitment, to conclude this as a single undertaking both agriculture, NAMA and services.”