Political Sketchbook : Letter from India

Wednesday 10th October 2018 06:58 EDT

I write to you from Hyderabad airport, after another long day of meetings, late finishes, early starts. I am earth-shatteringly tired and exhausted and I still have a flight to catch and a journey to the hotel. I am here to see companies to invest and set up in the UK from India in my role as UK Government Dealmaker. It will be a late night as I still have my own business emails and matters to handle around this. Dinner with the British Deputy High Commissioner here was a small break from rushing to meetings with companies. His wife made us a lovely meal.

Also on the table: how British companies are overlooking the massive tech talent here and as always UK could do more. One of America’s biggest hedge funds, DE Shaw where the founder of Amazon worked, has a massive tech office here in Hyderabad. If you’re in UK Fintech you must look at Hyderabad for tech talent. For girl child week the Deputy High Commissioner has two local girls to do his job. The social projects of our diplomatic posts are an important part of sharing our values around the world. Our Diplomatic posts work on UK exports and job creating inward investment to get closer ties and feedback to Central Government on bottlenecks. 

Since 1999 I’ve advised the UK Government on these ties. Despite ups and downs I’ve never seen a better time for even closer relations. Of course, instantly we can think of ten ways to make things better. And we will. There is no substitute for an entrepreneur meeting face to face and mentoring another and using their experience to help them grow. When I co-founded TIE UK this was our founding principal. This basic premise still works at the heart of what the Department for International Trade (DIT) does through its Global Entrepreneur Programme and me as one the Government’s Dealmakers - required to run our own successful global companies, raised capital for our companies, had acquisitions and exits, have impeccable networks, so we can have the expertise to help others do the same. Sacrificing our own growth for that of others is worth it with every company landed in the UK for the UK in my role for the UK Government.  

I’ve come from Bangalore to Hyderabad and now am heading to Mumbai – in each city I see outstanding tech from artificial intelligence to virtual reality that wants a UK base. The UK has always had a long term strategy for the India as a key strategic partner of shared values. Of course I’d like an open door no visa policy between the two countries.
 You may even not believe successive Labour and Conservative Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries wanting closer ties, but having worked since 1999 with Number 10 and Department for International Trade and Foreign Office, including policy formulation, I know the policy is for more trade, more investment – but there is not, as with Brexit, either side giving without mutual benefit either.

Critics will always complain they cannot get something for nothing.

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