Theresa May to visit India in push to develop trade links after Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May will visit India next month in her first international trade mission to begin the process of capitalising on new economic opportunities presented by Brexit.
In a sign of India's importance to the Government as it seeks new global trading relationships while leaving the European Union, the visit is Mrs May's first bilateral trip outside Europe as PM.
She will meet prime minister Narendra Modi for talks and introduce British small and medium sized firms from every region of the country, alongside more established players, to the "key" Indian market.
A number of commercial deals are expected to be signed during the trip to help create UK jobs and demonstrate "market confidence in the strength of the British economy" after the Brexit vote, Downing Street said.
In a move to build links in the region Mrs May and Mr Modi will inaugurate the India-UK Tech summit, South Asia's largest technology conference, in New Delhi before a visit to another city.
Ahead of the trip, Mrs May said: "As we leave the European Union we have the chance to forge a new global role for the UK - to look beyond our continent and towards the economic and diplomatic opportunities in the wider world.
"I am determined to capitalise on those opportunities, and as we embark on the trade mission to India we will send the message that the UK will be the most passionate, most consistent, and most convincing advocate for free trade."
Mrs May will be joined by UK firms such as GeoLang, a Cardiff cyber security business, Torftech, a creative energy business based in the south east, and Telensa, which operates in Cambridge and focuses on smart city solutions.
"In the past the focus of trade delegations has been big businesses, but I want to take a new approach that recognises the full range of British business," the PM said.
"So this time we will be focussing on small and medium sized businesses - and, importantly, the delegation will include representation from every region of the UK."
There are approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK and the country is Britain's second largest international job creator - with 7,105 new roles created last year through 140 projects.
Indian companies currently employ more than 100,000 people in the UK, and investments in recent years include £97 million from JLR to create 3,820 jobs, and £84 million from Tata Motors, producing 1,825 jobs.
Mrs May said: "I want to create an economy that truly works for everyone - and this new approach to international trade missions will help achieve just that.
"The relationships between our two countries are strong, and the Indian diaspora plays a vital role in our national life.
"In my talks with prime minister Modi I want to build on our relationship for the benefit of both our countries, generating jobs and wealth and maintaining cooperation on defence and security."
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will join the visit and attend the Joint Economic and Trade Committee, where British and Indian business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs will discuss how to take the ties between the two countries "to the next level".