There are uncertainties with Brexit: UK Minister

There are uncertainties with Brexit: UK Minister

There are uncertainties with Brexit: UK Minister

United Kingdom has been going through a tricky time, in terms of business, as the much talked about Brexit is slated to happen in March 2019.

In an exclusive interview with Furquan Moharkan of DH, Rona Fairhead (RF), Minister of Trade and Export Promotion, UK confessed that there is a degree of instability with Brexit, however assuring that all would be fine, as investments are still flowing into the country.

Edited excerpts:

DH: We have seen rise of protectionism across the globe of late. Is it hampering the international trade?

RF: I think there is still a very strong belief in the global free trade. If you see what is happening around the world -- billions of people being lifted out of poverty because of free trade. In my role, as championing exports in UK, I am finding that lot more countries are looking for more partnerships, more collaboration on technologies, and benefiting from the other countries capabilities, in order to make their own country better.

Particularly coming to India, the fact that both our countries have very strong creative industry capabilities, very strong technology and immersive technology. And we will be finding opportunities on this front.

DH: Lot of Indian technology companies suffered losses arising out of Brexit. How do you assure them of stability?

RF: Well, I mean, like everything, there are losses there as well. Yes, there is some uncertainty. But, I think we are still continuing to see significant level of investments continuing. If you look at the UK for an Indian market, we are both one of the largest markets for foreign direct investment (FDI). We are also India's fifth largest export market. So, I think, what happens is that businesses make decisions based on the ability of the country and the opportunity. And what we have seen is a continuous flow of businesses as well as continued flow of investors, which were up 30% last year, and students coming to Britain were also up 27% in terms of student visas.

DH: How do you see India-UK trade panning out in the post-Brexit era?

RF: I think it will carry on going from strength to strength. We have similar and technological areas of focus. We have a very similar approach to creativity and disruption -- we are both good at it. I think there is a real sense of people feeling at ease with each other. Particularly with the work that is being done with promoting India as a place with ease of doing business, it has made remarkable strides over past one year. That will continue to grow and all the numbers I see right now in terms of investments and exports makes me really optimistic.

DH: You have collaborated with Government of India on the smart cities project. Are you happy with the progress on that front?

RF: I think you have got to be clear about what do you mean by the smart cities. It carries a whole lot of elements and it can be anything from water and waste management, to clean roads, to clean energy. It could be how do you use big data for energy efficiency. So if I look at how we all are working, at government to government level, we have a great city to city link and number of our cities have been linking up. And we are also helping you to build Bengaluru blueprint, which I think is very positive.

I think it is for each city to decide what nature of the smart city it wants and then chose the technology and the blueprints based on that. I think it is going to be about the specific examples and what the issues you have in your particular city that can be addressed through it.

DH: How do you see collaboration with Karnataka on creativity and gaming front unfolding?

RF: I am really excited. I came here for the creativity and technology summit initially and then I saw the way the creative market was working in India. So a company called Framestore has a joint venture here. The gaming industry, more than gaming it is allowing us to apply that to things like safety and emergency response in the big industrial parks. It is also helping us to make kids learn better, by having education products build in that technology. I think opportunity for the gaming and immersive technology is huge -- with Bengaluru right at the centre of it.