As the Prime Minister travels to India to on her first bilateral trip, today the UK and India’s leading tech bodies, techUK and NASSCOM, call on both Prime Ministers to deepen the tech relationship between the two countries to unlock a major new wave of digital growth. With current UK-Indian bilateral trade worth £16.33 bn in 2015, the bodies argue there is an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically scale this trading relationship in shared areas of competitive advantage in emerging technologies such as the internet of things and fintech.
In an open letter to both Prime Ministers Theresa May and Narendra Modi, techUK and NASSCOM outline four priorities on which to build fruitful discussions ahead of next week’s meeting. These are:
1. Pioneering Innovation Partnerships: The UK and India’s shared ambition to be global centres of innovation make them natural partners for a deeper tech relationship. The UK Government should open a pioneering tech hub in India based on the successful model opened in the British Embassy in Israel.
2. Valuing international talent: India has a surplus of STEM skills and produces nearly 3.5 million graduates each year, many of whom have the digital tech skills the UK needs. Our fast growing and high value tech sectors must enjoy a frictionless immigration policy that minimises barriers for highly-skilled workers between our two countries.
3. Sharing best practice on boosting digital skills: The UK digital skills gap currently costs our economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost GDP. techUK and NASSCOM support the recognition by both Governments of the strategic importance of digital skills and encourage both Governments to share best practice in upskilling domestic workforces.
4. A trade agreement fit for the digital age: As the UK outlines its priority trading relationships for a post-Brexit world, there is an unprecedented opportunity for a UK-India tech relationship powered by seamless data flows and a high-skilled worker mobility agreement. Accordingly, the movement of skilled tech workers from India should be a trade priority rather than an immigration issue.
Commenting on the letter, Julian David, CEO, techUK explained:
“Government and industry are in agreement that we must bolster international trade links and maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading digital economy. In a post-Brexit world, the Prime Minister has rightly identified India as a key strategic partner, and this is especially true for tech. The next phase of the UK’s economic relationship with India can reap huge rewards as we embrace latest developments in the global digital revolution.
“Our ongoing work with our Indian partners shows we have a shared commitment to advancing our digital economies and, with the right measures in place, there are huge mutual trading gains to be made in technologies such as big data, connected devices and artificial intelligence. As we have conveyed to the Prime Minister, the recipe for success must have innovation, international talent mobility, data flows, digital skills and a ground-breaking trade agreement at its core. Done right, we have an unprecedented opportunity to scale digital trade between the two countries.”
A link to the full letter delivered to Theresa May on 4 November is below.