Cameron calls for progress on EU-India Free Trade Agreement

    By IANS,

    Kolkata : Britain Thursday hoped that India would continue to open up its economy and get rid of protectionist barriers, and called upon the sub-continental giant to ensure progress on the European Union-India Free Trade Agreement.

    “I hope we can move together and be partners of choice. I see British business investing massively in India, and Indian business investing massively in Britain. India invests more in Britain than all the European Union countries put together,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a free-wheeling interaction with students of the Indian Institute of Management here.

    Cameron asserted that both countries stood to gain from openness in trade, and mentioned insurance, education, infrastructure and architecture as thrust areas for investment in India.

    “I think we benefit from openness. It is always difficult for the government to get rid of protectionist barriers, to open up economies, to scrap tariffs, because it presents political challenge at home. But it is in our interest to do that,” Cameron said, during the 40-minute question-answer session.

    “And I hope India will continue to open up, so that it will be easier to invest in infrastructure, in universities, in insurance.”

    Describing Jaguar-Land Rover as one of “Britain’s greatest success stories”, Cameron said it was based on some great British design and manufacturing by Indian capital, some brilliant Indian strategic thinking and management.

    He noted that British exports to India went up by 25 percent last year, and said the bigger capital flow will lead to greater trade ties in future.

    In this context, Cameron turned to the EU-India Free Trade Agreement, saying it has been “sitting around for a very long time”.

    “And we need to make some progress on this.”

    He said Indo-British trade was not merely limited to exporting physical goods, but extended to combining universities, working on healthcare, and on services like insurance, banking and architecture.

    “If we can get further on mutual recognition of qualification, on which we made some progress this week, that will make a big difference,” Cameron said.