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My time with Theresa May and the UK Trade Delegation.
A couple of weeks ago, I travelled out to New Delhi, India as part of a trade delegation visiting the India-UK Tech Summit, along with Prime Minister Theresa May, and the great and the good of the UK’s tech industry. The Summit showcases the very best in cutting-edge UK technologies, innovation, entrepreneurship, design and higher education, to demonstrate the UK’s potential as the partner of choice for pioneering and cost-effective solutions to some of India’s most challenging economic and social issues.
It was a great honour for me to be invited to rub shoulders with some truly inspirational business leaders like Sir Andrew Whitty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, and John Nelson, Chairman at Lloyd’s of London. I actually had a rather surreal conversation with John about our respective time in Tanzania, before realising who he actually was! We also heard the thoughts of Sir James Dyson, who opened summit proceedings on Monday with a very interesting speech on the trading prospects for trade between India – along with other commonwealth countries – and the UK in a post-Brexit world.
I think what’s clear in my mind after hearing James speak, is that the UK needs to move forward after the summer’s vote, with clarity and purpose, negotiating trade deals with countries like India as swiftly as possible. Progress on a single trade and investment treaty between India and the EU – which has been in the works for nine years now – has ground to something of a halt, so the UK, if it can move quickly, may find itself in a really strong position in India.
One of the most fascinating presentations that I saw came from Patrick Wolfe, who is Deputy Director at the Alan Turing Institute. Wolfe’s talk on big data for society looked at the opportunities to use big data to make an impact on all of our lives for the better. Indian universities are collaborating with the Institute to make this a reality, and very open to wider industry collaboration. This is something that I’d love for Engage Hub to get involved in further down the line, so stay tuned to hear more on that one.
I was very fortunate to actually meet the PM and explain to her a bit about Engage Hub and the role it is playing in digital transformation initiatives for companies across the globe. The democratisation of technology has meant that organisations face increased international competition, so success often boils down to differentiating oneself by delivering supreme customer experiences – which is where Engage Hub comes in – rather than a focus on cost-cutting.
It was also an exciting opportunity to fly with the delegation on the Royal Air Force’s newly refitted ‘VIP’ Voyager – an equivalent of the US President’s Air Force One – which has only been in operation since July.
This was an excellent trip to be involved in and I’ve walked away from it with a far better understanding of the opportunity that India presents to us a company, and a bulging contacts book, I’ll be making full use of in the coming weeks and months. India is the world’s fastest growing major economy, and with a market of over a billion people fuelling demand for goods and services, is an important strategic target for the UK to forge closer ties with.
In amongst all the garden parties, factory visits and interactive presentations, the quality of the business leaders that made up the delegation tells me one thing; that our international trade strategy is in very safe hands at the minute. We have been invited to stay involved and attend future delegations and we will be delighted to do so. It will be fascinating to see what trade opportunities exist, and how they differ in yet another part of the world with huge potential as a trading partner.