First Indian-origin at Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Monday 10th June 2019 10:36 EDT

An Indian-origin bureaucrat, who served as the UK's deputy high commisssioner in Mumbai and in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit during Gordon Brown’s tenure, has been appointed chief economist of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Kumar Iyer as a chief economist will lead the FCO’s Economics Unit which provides in-house economic analysis input into foreign policy formulation. The Unit also develops economics capability within the FCO through the Economics and Prosperity Faculty of the Diplomatic Academy.

Born in London and who grew up in India, Iyer has become the first member of the ethnic minority communities to join the FCO management board, an official statement said on Thursday.

“I think living abroad during my early childhood gave me a sense of the world as a bigger place and I developed an interest in international issues that has always stayed with me. The role is a real privilege and marries my love of economics with my interest in global diplomacy.

"The role is a real privilege and marries my love of economics with my interest in global diplomacy," Iyer said, in reference to his new role,” said Iyer in a statement to PTI.

The FCO noted that he grew up speaking Hindi and Tamil, which came to be useful when he was posted to India as deputy high commissioner and director general for Economics, Trade and Commercial Affairs in South Asia in 2013.

Iyer taught international finance and macroeconomics at Harvard University, where he was a Kennedy Scholar, and went on to conduct his post-graduate studies at Cambridge University and is currently a Visiting Academic at Oxford University.

Iyer has always split his career between the private and public sectors, holding senior positions in both arenas. In his previous role as the British deputy high commissioner based in Mumbai, Iyer had the responsibility for Western India and was also the director general for Economic, Trade and Investment with overall responsibility for the UK-India trade relationship.

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