Access India Program (AIP) is a flagship program of the High Commission to promote the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India. As the name suggests, the program is aimed at facilitating access to India. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the growth engines of India and the UK. UK India Business Council (UKIBC) is the Knowledge Partner for implementing AIP. The program is fully funded by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) from the Government of India.
AIP facilitates the UK based SMEs to set up their manufacturing base in India. Many companies from the UK are interested in exploring the opportunities provided by the Indian market. With their niche technology and unique products, UK companies would like to make their presence in India where skilled manpower, availability of resources and the big market will provide a much-needed platform for growth.
The first phase of the program was launched in September 2017 by the High Commission and 50 SMEs were selected in two cohorts for facilitating their entry into India. Ten of them have already established operation in India and others are at an advanced stage of progress. During the second phase, a minimum of twenty new companies will be selected for facilitation under the AIP-II. AIP follows a rigorous but objective process to select SME from a large number of applicants. The High Commission of India, UKIBC as the Knowledge Partner, and many Associate Partners support and guide these selected companies for their market entry into India.
The launch event for the AIP-II was held in the High Commission on Friday, 17 January where High Commissioner Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam delivered welcome remarks and mentioned that with improved 'Ease of Doing Business' parameters in India, the UK based SMEs will find the climate much more business-friendly and easy to work in. As per the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index of 2019, India stands at 63rd place and has moved up 79 positions in the last 5 years, an unprecedented improvement.
The program has acquired a brand amongst the UK industry and has remained very popular in the first phase. The second phase is set to be much more effective and attractive. Both countries have very strong trade and investment relations. Bilateral merchandise trade of goods in FY 2018-19 amounted to USD 16.7 billion. Over 840 Indian companies are active in UK, creating more than 105,000 jobs and contributing approximately GBP 50 billion annually. Similarly, UK is India's one of the largest inward investors with a total investment of USD 28 billion-plus in the last nineteen years. AIP will facilitate more investment in India and strengthen long term economic relations.
(Expressed opinions are personal.)