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Bilateral Relations

High Commission of India



India-UK Bilateral Relations 

India and the United Kingdom share a modern partnership bound by strong historical ties. The bilateral relationship that was upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2004, was further strengthened during the tenure of British Prime Minister David Cameron to India who visited India thrice in his first term (2010, February 2013 and November 2013) in 2010.  The successful visit of Prime Minister Modi to the UK in November 2015 gave further impetus to the bilateral relationship. Interactions at the highest political level have continued as is reflected from UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest visit to India in November 2016, her first overseas bilateral visit after assuming office in July 2016.
PM’s visit to UK in November 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to UK from 12-14 November, 2015 took the relationship between the largest democracy and the oldest democracy to new heights. During the visit, the two Prime Ministers endorsed a Vision Statement setting out the fundamental principles on which UK-India partnership is built and outlined a roadmap for deepening cooperation. Both Prime Ministers resolved to hold biennial PM-level Summits to advance the partnership and agreed on a new Defence and International Security Partnership aimed to intensify cooperation on defence and security, including cyber security, counter-terrorism and maritime security. They also endorsed a Joint Statement on Energy and Climate Change and issued a Statement of Intent to scale up bilateral cooperation to a global partnership for development cooperation in third countries. 

UKPM’s visit to India in November 2016: UK Prime Minister Theresa May visited India from 6-8 November 2016 on her first overseas bilateral visit outside Europe. This reflects the continued importance that UK attaches to its bilateral relationship with India even after UK’s decision to leave the EU. Over 30 British business delegates mostly representing the Small and Medium Enterprise segment accompanied her for the visit. UK PM Theresa May was also accompanied by Secretary of State for International Trade Dr. Liam Fox, MoS for Trade and Investments Greg Hands and National Security Adviser Mark Lyall-Grant. During the visit, the two prime ministers agreed to work together on a contemporary and forward-looking global partnership. The two leaders also witnessed signing of two MoUs viz. MoU on Cooperation in Ease of Doing business and MoU on Cooperation in the field of Intellectual property rights. Also, business contracts worth £1.2 billion between British and Indian companies were signed. 

Bilateral engagements: The two countries continue to have a number of bilateral visits and interactions at the highest level. Before UKPM Theresa May’s visit to India in November 2016, the two Prime Ministers met on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, Hangzhou (September 2016) and recently at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg (July 2017). There have been several high-level visits from the UK to India that included those by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (6-7 April 2017), Secretary of State for Defence (13 April 2017), Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark (10 August 2016 and 6-7 April 2017), Minister of State for Defence Procurement (13 February 2017), Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel (12-14 August 2016), Secretary of State for International Trade Dr. Liam Fox (28-30 August 2016), the then Minister for Asia Alok Sharma (24 July 2016), the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Sajid Javid (8 July 2016) and the then FCO Minister of State for Asia Hugo Swire (30 May 2016). From the Indian side, high level visits included Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister (26-28 February 2017), Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy (19-20 April 2016 and 12-14 May 2017, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping  11-12 May 2017, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences (15 June 2016), Shri Chaudhary Birender Singh, Minister for Steel (27-31 August 2016), Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Food Processing Industries (5-8 September 2016), Dr. Subhash Bhamre, Raksha Rajya Mantri (7-9 September 2016), Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister (11-15 September 2016) and Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (26-28 September 2016).

Institutionalised dialogues: India and UK have a number of bilateral dialogue mechanisms in place, covering a wide spectrum of areas including political, trade, education, science & technology, defence etc. The significant ones are Economic and Financial Dialogue at Finance Minister-level (last held in April 2017), Joint Economic & Trade Committee at Commerce Minister-level (last held in November 2016), Strategic Dialogue at NSA-level (last held in January 2016), Foreign Office Consultations at Foreign Secretary-level (last held in June 2013), the recently launched Home Secretary-level Dialogue (held in May 2017 and July 2017), Defence Consultative Group at Defence Secretary-level (last held in November 2016) Cyber Dialogue (last held in September 2016) and Counter-Terrorism Dialogue (last held in August 2016) and other thematic dialogues between the two Foreign Offices. 

Economic engagements- Bilateral cooperation on economic and commerce matters are guided by institutionalised dialogues of India-UK Joint Economic & Trade Committee, Economic and Financial Dialogue and India-UK Financial partnership. Last JETCO meeting was held in New Delhi on 7 November, 2016 in New Delhi on the side-lines of UK PM Theresa May’s visit to India. Both sides reviewed the progress held in the two existing Joint Working Groups i.e. “Smart Cities" and "Technological Collaboration, Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering" under the aegis of JETCO. The two sides decided to create a new Joint Working Group on Trade to discuss and resolve trade related issues, with two subgroups on trade in goods and trade in services. 

The CEOs Forum that was renewed during PM Modi’s visit to UK last year also met in November 2016 on the side-lines of UKPM’s visit to India. It was agreed that the two Governments, together with the CEO Forum, would review how the forum can better support an enhanced economic and commercial relationship, alongside government dialogues. The Co-Chairs of the India UK Financial Partnership (IUKFP), Mr. Uday Kotak and Sir Gerry Grimstone called on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 7 November, 2016 to appraise him on the progress of the partnership and presented two papers on ‘Financial Inclusion’ and ‘Responsible Shareholder Engagement – An Indian Stewardship Code’. 

Pursuant to the announcements made during PM Modi’s visit to the UK in November 2015, over $1.1 billion of rupee-denominated bonds have been issued in London since July 2016, that includes bond issuances by HDFC (INR 3,000 crore) and NTPC(INR 2000 crore). Many companies including the National Highways Authority of India and Indian Railway Finance Corporation have also announced their intention to issue rupee-denominated bonds. It has also been announced that an anchor investment of up to £120 million each by both the governments will be made in the India-UK Sub-Fund under the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund. In further deepening of India-UK partnership in facilitating infrastructure development in India, UK has announced new technical assistance for the redevelopment of Varanasi railway station under the Varanasi Smart City Development Plan. To support the Start-up India initiative, UK will be investing £160 million across 75 start-up enterprises, apart from an additional £20million for a Start-Up India Venture Capital Fund. 

Trade: UK is among India’s major trading partners and during the year 2015-16, UK ranked 12th in the list of India’s top 25 trading partners.  As per UK’s Office for National Statistics, total UK-India bilateral trade in goods and services was £16.33 billion in 2015-16 as compared to £19.09 billion in 2014-15. India’s main exports to the UK are Articles of apparel & clothing accessories, power generating machinery & equipment, petroleum, petroleum products & related materials, miscellaneous manufactured articles, textile yarn, fabrics, made up articles, footwear, medicinal & pharmaceutical products, manufactures of metal, road vehicles and other transport equipment. The main imports from the UK to India are Power generating machinery & equipment, non-ferrous metals, metalliferous ores & metal scrap, general industrial machinery and equipment & machine, transport equipment, beverages, electrical machinery and appliances & electrical parts thereof, professional, scientific and controlling instruments and appliances, chemical materials & products. 

Investment: UK is the 3rd largest inward investor in India, after Mauritius, and Singapore with a cumulative equity investment of US $24.37 billion (April 2000- December 2016), accounting for around 8% of all foreign direct investment into India. India continued to be the third largest investor in the UK and emerged as the second largest international job creator with Indian companies having created over 110,000 jobs in the UK.  About 10% of these 800 Indian and India-focused companies based in the UK are listed on the London Stock Exchange. According to the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in their ‘2015/16 Inward Investment Annual Report’, Indian companies created 140 FDI projects in the UK in 2015-16, and created 7,105 new jobs and safeguarded 344 jobs. 

Defence- Cooperation in defence sector is another important pillar of bilateral cooperation. At all the three services level, joint exercises and wide ranging exchanges between the three services are conducted regularly. The last Army Joint Exercise ‘Ajeya Warrior’ was held in the UK from 7-28 June, 2015.  The Indian Air force participated in the Exercise ‘Indradhanush-IV’ in the UK from 21 July – 1 August, 2015. The Joint Navy Exercise ‘Konkan 2017’ was held in May 2017 at Plymouth in the UK that witnessed participation by INS Tarkash. During Prime Minister’s visit to UK in November 2015, the two countries agreed to elevate their Defence relationship by establishing capability partnerships in strategic areas through which we will work together across the spectrum of doctrine, training and other elements upon which military effectiveness depends. The institutionalised dialogue to discuss defence cooperation viz. Defence Consultative Group Meeting, is held annually at Defence Secretary level. The 17th DCG meeting was held on 15-16 November 2016 in New Delhi.

Education: Education is an important plank of the India-UK bilateral relationship. Over the last 10 years, the relationship has grown substantially with the introduction of bilateral mechanisms such as the India-UK Education Forum UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), Joint Working Group on Education, Newton-Bhabha Fund and Scholarship schemes. During the visit of Prime Minister to UK in November 2015, the following announcements relating to education were made: 

(i)        2016 would be the UK-India year of Education, Research and Innovation;
(ii)       Virtual partnerships would be initiated at the school level to enable young

people of one country to experience the school system of the other country and develop an understanding of the culture, traditions and social and family systems.

(iii)       UK’s plans for 25,000 UK students to go to India through the Generation UK-

India programme by 2020, including 1000 UK interns with Tata Consultancy Services in India by 2020.

(iv)       Launch of the 3rd phase of the UK India Education and Research Initiative. 

The UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) entered its third phase in April 2016. Additional investment of £20 million in the UKIERI up to 2021 expected to create 50 new partnerships in 2017 was announced during UKPM Theresa May’s visit to India in November 2016. 35 British faculty members have visited India under the Global Initiative for Academic Network (GIAN) programme. UK also supports the Skills India Mission and announced a fresh commitment of up to £12 million. 

Science and Technology- Science and Technology sector is the fastest growing element of our bilateral relationship. Joint investment in UK-India research has grown from less than £1 million in 2008 to over £200 million recently. During UKPM Theresa May’s visit to India, an India-UK Clean Energy R&D Centre with a focus on solar energy storage and a collaborative R&D programme in energy efficient building materials were launched. The two sides have also announced projects to address post-harvest losses that will benefit the farmers and the launch of the second phase of joint research in women’s and child health in low-income settings. New research partnerships worth £80 million including a new Joint Strategic group on Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) with a joint investment of up to £13 million have also been established.

Cultural Linkages: Cultural linkages between India and UK are deep and extensive, arising out of shared history between the two countries. There has been a gradual mainstreaming of Indian culture and absorption of Indian cuisine, cinema, languages, religion, philosophy, performing arts, etc. There are several Indian cultural organisations in the UK, which have been actively promoting Indian culture by involving the Indian Diaspora, British organisations and people. The Nehru Centre is the cultural wing of the High Commission of India in UK which was established in 1992, and is currently one of ICCR’s flagship cultural centres abroad. 2017 has been announced as the India-UK year of Culture to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian independence. Many activities and programmes are being planned under this including an exhibition of Indian science in the Science Museum in London, and highlighting 400 years of Shakespeare in India. Her Majesty The Queen hosted a grand reception at Buckingham Palace in February 2017 to launch the activities under the Year of Culture. A Midnight Freedom Run was organized in London by the High Commission of India in the midnight hours of August 14-15, 2017 to commemorate of 70 years of India’s independence.

Indian Diaspora: The India Diaspora in UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, with the 2011 census recording approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK equating to almost 1.8 percent of the population and contributing 6% of the country’s GDP.  During the visit of Prime Minister to UK, a community reception was organized on 13 November, 2015 at Wembley Stadium which was attended by over 60,000 persons of Indian origin. The reception was addressed jointly by the Hon’ble PM along with British PM. Government of India has announced the award of Pravasi Bhartiya Samman to British MPs of Indian origin viz. Priti Patel and Neena Gill in Bengaluru on 9 January 2017. 

Useful Resources:

(i) High Commission of India, London website:

(ii) High Commission of India, London Facebook page:


(iii) High Commission of India, London Twitter:


(v) The Nehru Centre, London website:

(vi) The Nehru Centre, London, facebook page:

(vii) The Nehru Centre, London, Twitter: @NehruCentre-

(viii) India Digest, A Publication of High Commission of India:

(ix) Weekly Economic Newsletter of High Impact Economic News: 


Aug 22, 2017
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