I had the pleasure of visiting India for the first time at the beginning of this month, I was there to attend a conference on behalf of one of my customers and it gave me the opportunity to learn something about this fascinating country.
On my first day I picked up a newspaper in the hotel and was immediately attracted to the headline "Scope for improved relations between India and the U.K.". First impressions was this was quite encouraging until I read further down that the U.K. has slipped to 17th position in India's trade partnerships. A fact I feel is quite shocking and made me wonder how we have let this happen.
When you arrive in India you realise this is a vibrant, exciting, diverse country that offers a great deal of opportunity, if I may again refer to what I read "U.K. policy makers were asleep at the wheel as India transformed into a throbbing economy".
On my second day I had a very positive meeting at the British High Commission in Delhi, the trade team there are very keen to encourage British companies to trade in the Indian market particularly in fields of innovation and high technology, particularly to assist SME's make a breakthrough.
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and there are many advantages to doing business there. English is widely spoken and we have a common history in legal and administrative matters. The challenges can be it is very price conscious and Import duty rates can be high.
You cannot consider India as a single market there are 7 union territories and 29 states each with their own varying rules and regulations. They will often have their own languages and cutures. You will aslo find many states have particular clusters in certain industries for example Gujarat leads in the textile industry.
Prime Minister Modi has said he wants India to become the most open economy in the world and since 2011 the country has traded more with the rest of the world than China does. India aims to reclaim its place as one of the great trading cultures of the world.
Trade and commerce have been the backbone of the Indian economy right from ancient times. Textiles and spices were the first products to be exported by India.
There is a massive market place so go to India, look at the market but do your homework first. I promise you will get a very warm welcome.