UK firms 'must cotton on' to Indian potential


British firms are not doing enough to take advantage of the rapidly growing Indian economy, MPs have claimed.

A report published today by the trade and industry select committee argues that UK companies "lag behind competitors" in other parts of the world, including the US, Europe and the Far East.

In order to rectify the "partial understanding" British industry has of the market potential of India, companies should realise that the sub-continent offers much more than its traditional role as the provider of cheap labour.

In particular the report points out "considerable openings" in India's manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors, adding that more effort should be made to encourage Indian students to take on higher education in the UK.

"Levels of interest in the Indian economy are growing year upon year - but UK investors don't yet really understand the opportunities that India presents," committee chairman Peter Luff said.

"If we are to take full advantage of this golden opportunity, UK firms must reassess their perception of the Indian economy as simply a source of low-cost labour and the UK government must do more to help them."

The report suggests that there is no clear single structure in place to encourage British firms to engage with the Indian economy more directly, instead claiming that a number of bodies overlap their duties without providing sufficient aid.

It warns that "viewed from India, the UK is a small country, and we need to be far more focussed to have a real impact".

But it also criticises the British media for shaping public perceptions of the Indian economy as being dominated by call-centres and other low-cost outsourcing opportunities.

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