LONDON: India and the UK are set to sign a “package of deliverables” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to London that will also see discussions over cooperation in sectors like nuclear energy and defence.
Describing the India-UK relationship as “mature”, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond sought to move away from any comparisons being drawn with the multi-million pound nuclear deal announced during the recent state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“There will be a package of deliverables announced while the Prime Minister is here next week. I suspect that because our relationship is in a sense more mature than some other relationships we have there, it may be that there are rather a lot of medium-sized projects rather than one big iconic project,” he said.
“Different countries do things in different ways. As the Indian economy has a very large and important private sector, many of the deals will be commercial and private sector deals rather than government to government deals,” he added.
The senior minister in the UK Cabinet narrowed down defence and civil nuclear as an area of focus during the visit and also confirmed that the Make in India aspect of the Hawk trainers will be on the cards.
“Prime Minister Modi’s policy approach of seeking to open India up very much facilitates some of the things we would like to do,” Mr Hammond said.
“We see scope for example for a much greater government to government relationship in defence equipment, playing into the Make in India programme, where we have significant British defence contractors and British defence IP that can be played into that agenda for developing the Indian defence industry to the benefit of both countries…Hawk trainers will be one of the subjects within the defence package we will want to talk about,” Mr Hammond added.
He admitted that discussions over civil nuclear had “run into problems” due to the UK’s own system, which has now been cleared up to ensure for a more “constructive” civil nuclear relationship.
“We know that there is a significant role that the UK can play in India’s civil nuclear programme and we are pulling out all the stops to make sure we can codify a collaboration that will allow us to work together in the future…we will simply remove the bureaucratic obstacles on both sides and make sure we can see a step change in the way the relationship works,” he said.
PM Modi begins a three-day visit to the UK next Thursday.