modi cameron visit bilateral trade uk india brexit referendum eu
PM Narendra Modi at the Joint Press Briefing with the PM of U.K David Cameron, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in London on November 12, 2015 (representational image).PIB India

The stage is being set for the U.K. to re-invigorate trade ties with countries across the world. The country's imminent exit from the European Union as a consequence of the referendum, is pushing it to stack up its firepower as an independent trading country.

Britain's business secretary Sajid Javid, on a trip to India on Friday, said he would kick-start preparatory talks with the Asian economy on a bilateral trade deal and later hold discussions in the coming months for similar arrangements with other key trade partners like the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea.

He told Reuters that as Britain prepares to trade independently with the outside world — out of the EU ring-fence — the country needs more tools to compete on a global stage. It was also ramping up its trade specialist staff (including trade negotiator) to 300 by the end of 2016 from 100 at present.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC that Britain would seek "friendly governments" to strengthen its staff. "We will look to friendly governments to assist us, as well as seeking to hire the best resources available on the open market," he said.

Britain's challenge is two-fold. It exports about 45 percent of its goods and services to the EU, and may now need a sensitive rebalance strategy to keep the trade going. Also, Britain's capacity to trade with the outside world, without the EU, may be testing as key partners are closely watching how the U.K. severs ties with the 28-member bloc and the duration it takes to complete the separation. 

India trade

The two-way merchandise trade between the two countries during 2015-16 was $14.02 billion, a decline of 2.20 percent over the preceding financial year, according to an update by the Indian High Commission to the U.K.

BBC citing Grant Thornton India data said Indian-owned businesses in UK employed close to 1.1 million people and their revenues touched $26 billion from $4 billion last year.

Supporters of Brexit argue that with U.K.'s exit, negotiations with emerging economies such as India are bound to gain pace. Already a preferred destination for many foreign investors from developed economies, India continues to attract even the "leave" camp. Reuters noted that the leave leaders were more open to allow skilled, non-EU workers but under a selective immigration policy.

The British government too might be able to realise its long request for more access to India's financial services market, as negotiations quicken.

India is U.K.'s third largest foreign investor. "India undertook 122 FDI projects in 2014-15 in the UK, marking an increase of 65 per cent over last year and making it the UK's third largest source of FDI, accounting for over 9,000 new jobs," the Indian High Commission said. 

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