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Opportunities for trade with India

February 26, 2013

The Prime Minister has just come back from India, looking to open up trade links.


Since our study for the City of London Corporation on “Scenarios for India and China to 2015: Implications for the City of London”[1], we have been watching developments in India with interest. What this study showed was that India was constrained by energy shortages and by infrastructure that needed investment: but many enterprises were focused on climbing the added value ladder – in finance and professional services, in regulation and standards, and in other areas where UK firms can provide specialist advice.


While the business environment can be frustrating, we concluded that the presence of a legal and property system based on that in the UK, the widespread use of English, and the existence of a large Indian student population and diaspora in the UK, gives us a set of advantages in opening up trade with India. This can be both ways – investment by the UK and services supplied by UK firms in India, and Indian companies setting up in the UK.


Indian companies such as Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Infosys and HCL are well known in the UK: and more than 75 Indian firms either invested for the first time or increased their investment in the UK in the last year[2]. These companies bring new approaches and ways of thinking – such as Jugaad: finding an innovative solution to a problem when the resources are very limited or almost nil. Jugaad has been used by Renault-Nissan, GE, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico and Siemens, to develop ‘constraint-based innovation’  based on functionality and ease of use; targeting customers at the base of the pyramid; and focused on affordability, low cost and ease of production. One example is the clay fridge, which runs without electricity[3].


So trade with India is likely to lead to advantages and learning for both parties, in the same way that our car plants under Japanese management are doing so well.

[1] Available in pdf from

[2] Investing in the UK, a Guide for Indian businesses: Deloitte/UKTI

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