As the UK continues to plot a viable economic course outside with the EU, a full trade agreement with India remains a top target for negotiators on these shores.
This may be a difficult objective to realise, however, with a leading Indian diplomat claiming that freedom of movement between the two nations will be central to any comprehensive trade deal.
However, the Minister for Investment at the UK Department for International Trade UK has recently spoken about the deepening of trade relations between the two regions, with several initiatives and opportunities having been launched to help Indian businesses set up on these shores.
But what markets define this relationship, and how can you successfully launch an Indian business in the UK?
Trade Between India and the UK – An Overview
The decision to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the UK and India makes sound economic sense, with this relationship valued at approximately £20.47 billion as recently as 2018.
Not only this, but India is already the UK’s 11th-largest export market outside of the EU, with the value of export trade here accounting for £7.5 billion worth of existing investment on these shores.
From a UK perspective, the biggest markets of interest include aerospace, chemicals, food and drink, life sciences and the automotive trade, while pharmaceutical products and medical devices are also fast-growing areas of export specialism between Britain and India (particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic).
In the lucrative food and drink sector, the UK’s particular export specialisation to India is whiskey, which comprised 80% of the region’s total exports in this niche during 2018.
From an Indian business perspective, it’s IT and related professional services that are by far the largest export into the UK, which is why India retains a significant interest in establishing a bilateral social security agreement that negates the need for double taxation payments.
Medical tourism is another growing area of interest, albeit one that has been impacted adversely by Covid-19. Increasingly, oncology and transplants are central to this market, with the NHS benefiting directly from this market by encouraging medical tourism to India for more straightforward procedures.
How to Launch an Indian Business in the UK
If you’re to successfully launch a new Indian business in the UK, it’s incredibly important that you adhere to the basic rules of opening a commercial venture.
Firstly, you’ll need to ensure that there’s a viable market for your business proposition in India, before creating a viable and detailed business plan that can drive organic growth and secure investment as and when required.
To this end, we’d also recommend that you build knowledge about the UK market and the behaviour of customers, particularly in terms of consumer spending and the split between corporeal and online sales.
As a multinational business, you’ll also need to develop the capability to quickly transfer money from one jurisdiction to another.
You can hold various balances in relevant currencies, of course, or use virtual money management accounts to facilitate cross-border payments. You’ll need to identify an account that allows for real-time payments, while ideally eliminating the need for transaction and processing fees.
This will allow some much-needed flexibility within your new business, which is ideal when crossing international laws and borders.