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UK seeks to strengthen IT links

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DQW Bureau
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UK is India’s largest trading partner after US accounting for 5.7 percent of India’s total foreign trade in goods in the year 2000-01. UK enjoys the third largest share of seven percent of new investment approved since 1991, ahead of Germany, Japan and France. More than 1,500 new Indo-British joint ventures have been approved since 1993. UK now seeks increase cooperation between the two nations by inviting more companies to come over to Britain and begin operations.

Pune was the first stop chosen by Douglas Alexander, British minister of state for E-Commerce and Competitiveness to seek more ties with their country. The British minister earlier visited Mahindra British Telecom Ltd and the Pune University to understand its strengths in IT. "India’s strengths in the ICT sector are well known around the world. But given my ministerial responsibilities, it is important that I see for myself what strengths are. UK is the preferred gateway into Europe for Indian companies working in the IT sector. We want more of you to come over". According to Alexander, more than 60 percent of Indian investments in Europe are in UK. Of these 50 per cent are in the software sector. Stating that UK was the largest e-commerce market in Europe, he believed that Indian companies would get plenty of opportunities to promote business.

More than 200 companies have invested in the UK. Of these 100 are in the IC sector, he said. Similarly, there are 100 odd UK companies who are currently in the process of investing in India.

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Britain is also relaxing norms to attract Indian companies. Alexander explained that significant steps have been taken in order to simplify procedures. All companies have to do is present a sound business plan and the permit is given in two weeks. The work permit regime has also been made moer flexible. Individuals are now allowed to switch firms on the same work permit in UK. The validity of work permits has also been extended. Atleast 18,000 work permits have been issued to Indians. Of these, 11,500 permits have been given to IT professionals.

Alexander said that India ranked among the top ten foreign countries to invest in UK. "Last year, we have received the maximum number of enquiries from India," he said.

Earlier, Alexander announced the creation of the British Business group. The aim, he said, was to be a partner of first choice for Indian trade and

commerce.

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