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UK-based businesses must raise their game in India, argues Toby Greenbury of the UK India Business Council

As India returns to annual growth rates of 8-9%, the immediate future for the West looks, by contrast, pretty gloomy.

In the UK recovery is weak and the next several years will be a long hard slog. With the economy barely escaping the clutches of recession, the UK can expect to face more pain with the uncertainty of a general election on 6 May, but the certainty that whatever the result, government spending will be cut savagely and taxes will rise. Industrial action may well add to the misery. It is already making headlines and spoiling holidays.

Toby Greenbury
Toby Greenbury

It all makes the jovial comments made by Kamal Nath, India’s minister of road transport and highways, look prescient. Speaking before the financial crisis, in his former role as minister of commerce and industry, Nath referred to “emerging economies”, on the one hand, and “submerging economies” on the other. It was a light-hearted joke at the time, but it feels a little close to the bone now, particularly to those in the UK.

Despite the unfavourable comparison, India’s success – and that of some other emerging economies – presents remarkable opportunities for UK-based businesses at a time when many of their traditional markets remain sluggish. Indeed, the UK, which has so much in common with India, is in a terrific position to benefit from its economic growth and increasing openness to the world of cross-border transactions and foreign investment.

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Toby Greenbury is a director of the UK India Business Council and co-head of the India group at London law firm Mishcon de Reya.

Photo © Mishcon de Reya; Used with permission. All rights reserved.