British MP Priti Patel talks with CM Anandi Patel
BRITAIN and India should lay emphasis on developing the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector, with a focus on small shops which are the “backbone” of the economies in both countries, prime minister David Cameron’s diaspora champion Priti Patel MP said.
Patel, who is of Gujarati origin, made the remarks at a meeting with the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Gujarat last week.
“India and the UK should focus on developing the SME sector. We are countries of small shoppers and these small shops are our economy’s backbone. We have to develop them,” said Patel, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury and the Conservative MP for Witham.
Patel revealed that the UK plans to set a trade centre in Ahmedabad.
“Our ambition is to set up a trade centre in Ahmedabad, where all can engage in new business sector and also SMEs can get help. It is fulfilling to be here in Gujarat. The state is vibrant - we all know that. We speak about our shared future as a country and as a state. A successful economy is the heart of development in every nation,” she said.
Referring to the Indian diaspora in the UK, Patel said, “We have the Gujarati community in the UK expanding their commerce and business. One third of UK’s (Indian) diaspora is Gujarati. We will continue as one of the strong voices for investment opportunities in India.”
She noted that there are 700 Indian businesses in the UK, which employ 100,000 people, and are worth £11bn (-$16.67bn- £16bn ($24.25bn) in 2013.
Patel described 2014 as “ground-breaking” for India and said while the country was on its way to emerging as a global force on world stage, there were new opportunities for deeper ties between the UK and India.
She said: “We are as ambitious for the India-UK relationship as prime minister Modi is for the future of his country.
“The passion he has for the future of India is mirrored in the passion we have for our joint relationship.”
The diaspora champion said Britain and India were collaborating on multi-million pound science and research projects, including in green growth, “where Gujarat and Britain are pioneers”.
Patel also noted that the University of Leicester was working with the Gujarat police on DNA finger printing technology and that the state’s famed Gir Lions Sanctuary was developing links to Twycross Zoo and the University of Nottingham.