Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned that Brexit would cast a “shadow” over the world economy, but said the UK was eyeing exciting opportunities opening up with “India, China and Australia”, among other countries.
Speaking on the sidelines of the G20 meeting of leading world economies in Chengdu, China, Hammond said the vote to leave the EU was “not the only shadow the world economy faces”.
“There is going to be uncertainty about the outcome hanging over the world economic outlook for perhaps the next couple of years,” he said, but added: “At the same time there are very exciting opportunities opening up with China, Australia, India and many other countries” once Britain has withdrawn from the EU.
Hammond’s comments came as the UK minister for Asia, Alok Sharma, made a visit to India this week.
“Britain is open for business and thriving on the world stage. We want the strongest possible relationship with India,” Sharma said.
The British minister held talks with Indian government ministers Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal.
“Very warm meeting with @nitin_gadkari to discuss his ambitious plans for expanding India’s transport infrastructure,” Sharma tweeted about meeting Gadkari, the minister for road transport and highways and shipping.
With Goyal, the minister of state with independent charge for power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines, Sharma discussed masala bonds, affordable energy and tackling climate change.
The Reading West MP was also due to meet business and finance leaders to discuss Britain’s strengths, including in financial services, “smart cities” and sustainable energy.
“The UK and India have a broad and exciting partnership that includes trade and investment, climate and energy, education, health and culture, reinforced by the large, vibrant Indian diaspora in Britain,” Sharma said.
Meanwhile, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday (July 22) that in the weeks since the EU referendum vote, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia had all made contact about trade deals.
Appointed this month to the cabinet of prime minister Theresa May, Johnson made the comments while on his first visit to the US as foreign secretary, including a stop at the United Nations and a meeting with chief executives of multinational businesses.
There he told reporters that he had received reassurances from those companies, including banks, drug makers and manufacturers, that Britain remained “very much part” of their global business footprint, although they expressed concern over the uncertainty ahead over how the UK government negotiates its separation from the EU.
Johnson added that he expected the UK to retain the right for its financial firms to sell services across European Union member states after Britain’s exit from the bloc.
The UK needs to negotiate a new relationship with the EU once the British government triggers Article 50, the formal start of divorce talks, which could take a year or longer.