Agreement close between Yorkshire and India trade bodies

BUSINESS links between Yorkshire and Asia, especially India, have moved a step closer with two trade bodies on the verge of signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Yorkshire Asian Business Association (YABA) have been moving towards an agreement to encourage and facilitate trade between their members.

Pratik Dattani, a London-based director of FICCI, was at a round-table discussion hosted by DLA Piper in Leeds to discuss joint venture opportunities between Yorkshire and India. He said: “We have been talking over the last few months about closer co-operation. I can announce we are working on that at the moment and we should be in a position to announce that soon.”

FICCI will be bringing around 15 companies from the healthcare sector to Yorkshire following a London conference in April, which links to one of the challenges facing Yorkshire businesses in dealing with Indian firms.

“When FICCI members come to the UK they see London not just as a gateway to the UK but a gateway to Europe. The main challenge with my colleagues in India is to tell them that the UK doesn’t stop at the M25,” added Mr Dattani.

There can also be some reticence from companies looking to trade in India.

Keith Warbuton, international business development director of Sannam S4, has helped 200 businesses enter the Indian market in the last two years and identified the key hurdles a company issues for a company once they have chosen India as their target.

He said: “They need to do the research, they need to choose the right vehicle, they need to hire the right people and they need to have in their minds the right timeframe.

“All of those things are messages that need to be consistently pumped out to the marketplace. That is the challenge that people around this table have.”

Mr Warbuton also passed on advice about the potential for businesses who are able to seize opportunities, adding: “I was at a conference recently and the speaker said ‘Those companies that go into India now will see disproportionate benefits than if they wait for three years’ – I completely agree with that.”

Consul General B C Pradhan, based at the High Commission in Birmingham, set out the current position in India, following the election earlier this year which saw a single party take power for the first time in a generation, and how this – and other factors – could accelerate economic growth in the country.

The continued development of the middle class, an increasing urban population that is forecast to grow by 200m people by 2022, and the demographic dividend that will come from having a population with a median age of 30 by 2025 are all expected to be major factors as the domestic economy increases from $1trn to $2.5trn in 2025.