British businesses zero in on Tamil Nadu
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British businesses zero in on Tamil Nadu

Thursday, 28 November 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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CHENNAI: Britain has set up a special partnership forum in Tamil Nadu, the state in which its businesses have the maximum number of collaborations in India.

The British Business Group was formally launched at a function in the deputy high commission here. Such special groups have earlier been put in place in Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune.

"Common issues will be discussed by both Indian and U.K.-based members of the group," John Dennis, the director of trade and investment promotion as well as the economic and commercial counsellor, said after the group's launch late Wednesday.

Dennis is touring India's southern states to promote British-Indian trade. As there are 100 Indo-British collaborations in Tamil Nadu, a special partnership forum has been set up here to provide a networking platform for industry from both countries.

British companies and their Indian subsidiaries will be the corporate members of the group, along with Indian companies that already do or wish to do business in or with Britain, high commission officials said.

The balance of trade between India and Britain was evenly poised in 2001, Dennis said, noting that his country exported goods worth 1.7 billion pounds and took in Indian products worth 1.8 billion pounds last year.

During the first six months of 2002, exports from Britain to India touched 999.5 million pounds and imports were worth 932 million pounds. Britain is India's largest trading partner after the U.S.

The British mission here has identified key sectors to focus on relation building -- the automotive sector, agribusiness, healthcare, environment, IT, recreation and leisure, education and training. Ties in telecommunications, infrastructure, financial services and creative industries would also be encouraged, officials said.

The Indo-British cooperation in Tamil Nadu extended to many of these sectors, Dennis said.

Two-dozen Britain-based component manufacturers supply parts to the Indian automotive industry concentrated around Chennai. The Ford plant here and companies like Brakes India, Wheels India and India Pistons have collaborators in Britain.

Another Chennai company, Rane Brakes, has collaborated with the University of Bradford to train people in the latest brake technologies. The university has created a distant learning module to meet its needs.

"The Royal College of Arts, London, is the best in the world in teaching automobile designing and there is a possibility here for Indian companies to train their future car designers," Dennis said.

Britain's Alden Group, a leading electronic and printing technology provider, has set up a Indian subsidiary, the Alden Prepress Services Pvt. Ltd. in Chennai that provides data conversion, technical illustration and technical translation services.

Nova Weigh India of Chennai has become a market leader in weighing machines with British collaborations. The Apollo Group, a corporate hospital group based here, has a 4 million contract with Huntleigh Healthcare of Britain to supply equipment for a hospital it is setting up in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Wales College of Medicine is into diabetes research with a Chennai research institute. And Britain's P&O Ports has, with a joint venture formation, taken over the container service at Chennai Port on a 30-year contract.

"We are very optimistic about the Indo-British partnership in the coming years. The objective is to further promote relations with Tamil Nadu through economic exchanges," said David Abbott, the commercial secretary in the deputy high commission here.
Source: IANS
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