Home India News Recession-hit Birmingham sends business delegation to India

Recession-hit Birmingham sends business delegation to India

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : A large business delegation is preparing to fly out to India this week from the British city of Birmingham – the centre of a once-thriving industrial belt that has been brought to its knees by Britain’s longest-ever recession.

The delegation of 50 business leaders, lawyers and professionals – the largest such from England’s second biggest city – will interact with high-profile Indian counterparts in New Delhi Oct 28-30 in a bid to seek out fresh markets and investments.

The move comes amid the unexpected news Friday that the British economy contracted by 0.4 percent between July and September – the sixth successive quarter of contraction that leaves Britain in the grip of its longest recession on record.

The opposition Conservative Party described the figures, which dashed hopes of a Christmas recovery, as “deeply, deeply disappointing”, particularly with Britain’s European rivals France and Germany having emerged from the recession.

The hardest-hit region in Britain is the West Midlands, an industrial belt in the west-central part of England with Birmingham as its largest city. One of its biggest industries – carmaking – has been hit by a sharp decline in global demand despite a substantial investment by Tata Motors into Jaguar Land Rover.

“The recession is an added factor,” said a spokeswoman for the delegation.

“We want to showcase Birmingham as the place to do business. Its strong links with India, underpinned by well-established historic ties, can only further increase this reputation and enhance Birmingham’s status as a growing global city,” she said.

The three-day event in New Delhi will be kicked off by a ‘Birmingham Day’, spearheaded by Birmingham City Council in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The move has the backing of Richard Brennan, CEO of Birmingham Forward, the city’s independent professional services membership organisation, Arindam Banerji, Global Head of DBOI Deutsche Bank, and Bharat Wakhlu, Resident Director, Tata Group.

In a related development this week, business leaders in the city will press the Indian government for the resumption of direct flights between Punjab and Birmingham, whose airport serves hundreds of thousands of people of Indian-origin living in the West Midlands.

Air India abruptly suspended direct air links with Birmingham last year – not because of a lack of demand, but because the airline took a decision to prioritise filling empty slots at Heathrow.