Lord Mayor of London visits Pune

April 18th, 2008 - 7:14 pm ICT by admin  

Pune, April 18 (IANS) Lord Mayor of London David Lewis arrived in Pune to explore business collaboration opportunities with the industries in and around this western Maharashtra hub. It is the first ever visit by any London mayor to the city.

“Pune has become a major industrial base, we recognise that. This visit is to promote Britain as a partner of choice for Pune-based businesses seeking to expand their enterprise overseas,” said Lewis, explaining why Pune was included in the packed 12-day trip.

Addressing a press meet Friday, he said though India’s growth rate of eight to nine percent is impressive, in order to keep up the pace the country must remove trade restrictions.

The specific areas of concern are red tape in sectors such as finance, accounts, legal and insurance.

Lewis said that London, which is considered the financial capital of the world, has 200 foreign law firms. “However, in India an English law firm cannot practice. Similar is the case in the field of accountancy, insurance, all of which face restrictions.”

Quoting a World Bank report, he said India ranks 120th out of 178 “easy doing business countries”. “You can do better than that, if the country goes a little easy on restrictions more foreign investments can come into the Indian economy.”

Lewis feels that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the future of the Indian economy. “You have such intelligent and well informed young entrepreneurs, the restrictions don’t seem to deter them,” he said.

During the financial year 2006-07, Britain’s investment in India stood at 8.7 billion pounds, which had grown by 16.4 percent from the previous year. He expressed optimism that British investments in the Indian economy were bound to grow further.

The annual business visit by the London mayor to India has resulted in some good business partnership deals, according to Sharon Bamford, CEO, UK-India Business Council.

He said: “26 business deals are in the pipeline and two deals which are in information technology sector are very close to completion.”

From Pune, the delegation will go to Delhi where Lewis will meet the minister of commerce and industry, finance minister and law minister.

The delegation includes representatives of major investment banks, law firms, insurers, accountancy firms, shipping firms and exchanges.

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