Britain’s minister in charge of the Cabinet Office arrived in India on Monday in the first official visit to the country by a British government leader since the May general election won by prime minister David Cameron.
Oliver Letwin, who is also the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will visit Mumbai and the Indian capital New Delhi during his three-day tour.
His visit will focus on deepening the relationship between India and the UK ahead of prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK in November.
Letwin will meet ministers in Maharashtra and Delhi, along with top government officials and business leaders with the aim of strengthening economic and financial collaboration between the two countries.
He will also reiterate the UK government’s offer of £1 billion of export finance credit in support of infrastructure and other needs in India.
“I would like to reiterate the British government’s commitment to work towards ‘an enhanced partnership with India’. Our government launched the GREAT Collaborations campaign to complement prime minister Modi’s vision of Make in India. We look forward to forging a stronger commercial and economic relationship with his government and to welcoming him to the UK later this year,” Letwin said.
In Mumbai, the Conservative MP will meet Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss further strategic engagement between Maharashtra and the UK.
They will discuss cooperation on the Maharashtra government’s ambitions around ease of doing business, smart cities, financial services, skills and education.
Fadnavis and Letwin will also attend a reception for leading business personalities hosted by the British deputy high commissioner in Mumbai, Kumar Iyer.
In addition, Letwin will undertake a series of high-level calls including on RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, Anand Mahindra and HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh.
The minister will participate in a round table with CEOs of leading Mumbai financial institutions.
Speaking about his visit to Mumbai, Letwin said: “It is inspiring to see the broad range of engagement between the UK and Maharashtra stretching from business and infrastructure to arts and education. It is particularly good to see the clear focus in Maharashtra on improving the climate for business”.
In New Delhi, Letwin will call on finance minister Arun Jaitley to discuss financial and economic cooperation between the UK and India.
He is scheduled to discuss infrastructure and bilateral cooperation with Indian Railways minister Suresh Prabhu, and clean energy financing with power minister Piyush Goyal.
He will meet commerce secretary Amitabh Kant to discuss the UK’s support to India in improving the country’s ease of doing business climate.
Letwin will also launch a British Council report on Social Entrepreneurship. The report’s preliminary findings suggest how the UK and India can work together to develop social entrepreneurship.