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Britain invested £1.5bn in India last year amid 'thriving' commercial links

Britain ploughed an extra 1.87 billion US dollars (£1.5 billion) into India last year, reinforcing its position as the single biggest investor among the G20 group of nations.

The scale of the investment reached 24.07 billion US dollars ( £19.4 billion) between 2000 and 2016, r epresenting 8% of all foreign direct investment (FDI) into the south Asian giant.

The move created 371,000 jobs over the period, according to the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) Sterling Assets India report, with UK firms employing 788,000 people in India.

Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day trip to India in November - her first bilateral visit outside Europe - on a trade mission designed to pave the way for close commercial links after Brexit.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said further reductions in India's corporate tax rates will help the two countries' relationship go from strength to strength.

"These figures reflect the thriving commercial links that Britain's businesses - large and small, and from a whole host of sectors - have built in India, and which the Prime Minister saw on her first visit outside the EU.

"As UK companies grow, they also create jobs and drive prosperity here at home. So, as new opportunities spring up in India - from its rapid digitisation to more young people wanting to study at the UK's world-leading universities - our firms will be looking to take full advantage."

The report - supported by professional services firm PwC and the UK India Business Council - found that nearly a quarter of all British investment went to Delhi between April 2015 and September last year.

The largest slice of FDI went to the chemicals industries, with Britain channelling 6.1 billion US dollars (£4.9 billion ) into the sector.

The drugs and pharmaceuticals industry took a 4.1 billion US dollar (£3.3 billion) slice, while food processing received 3.2 billion US dollars (£2.6 billion) from the UK.

Patricia Hewitt, chair of the UK India Business Council, said: "The bilateral business relationship is certainly strong, and it is important to both economies.

"The fact that Prime Minister May's visit to India in November was her first bilateral destination showed how much India matters to the UK.

"Indeed, the findings of this report also show how much the UK matters to India in terms of investment and job creation. As Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi said, the UK and India are an 'unbeatable combination'."

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