In India, amid calls to resign over Partygate, Johnson announces new deals worth £1 Billion

His first stop at Ahemdabad on Thursday saw him meeting industrialist Gautam Adani and inaugurating JCB India’s sixth manufacturing plant in Vadodara.
Britain PM Boris Johnson and Indian PM Narendra Modi. (File Photo | AP)
Britain PM Boris Johnson and Indian PM Narendra Modi. (File Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: Even as the Partygate debate continues back home, Boris Johnson is on a two-day official visit to India with business in mind. His first stop at Ahemdabad on Thursday saw him meeting industrialist Gautam Adani and inaugurating JCB India’s sixth manufacturing plant in Vadodara.

"As I arrive in India today, I see vast possibilities for what our two great nations can achieve together. From next-generation 5G telecoms and AI to new partnerships in health research and renewable energy – the UK and India are leading the world,’’ PM Johnson said.

The British Prime Minister is expected to announce commercial deals worth £1 Billion in new investments and export deals in areas from software engineering to health, creating almost 11,000 jobs across the UK.

Around 11,000 new jobs will be created through new India-UK trade and investment deals. "The Prime Minister will use his visit to India to boost our collaboration with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, slashing trade barriers for UK businesses and driving jobs and growth at home,’’ said a statement issued by the British High Commission in India.

The business where investments/collaborations are to be announced include:

A new Switch Mobility electric bus R&D centre in the UK and the opening of their Asia Pacific Headquarters in Chennai, generating over 1000 jobs in the UK in India.

Investment from leading Indian manufacturer Bharat Forge and electric truck maker Tevva Motors to expand to a new site in the south-east and create 500 new jobs.

Indian software company Mastek investing £79mn to create 1600 jobs over the next three years all over the UK.

Business consultancy FirstSource opening new offices in South Wales, the Midlands and cities in the North-East and North-West and, Hertfordshire-based firm Smith & Nephew agreeing a major export deal to sell robotic surgical systems in India, and Northamptonshire business Scott Bader opening a new resins factory to supply top renewable energy companies in south-east Asia.

Meanwhile, a UK-based satellite communications company OneWebwill signed a contract for satellite launches with New Space India Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

“Our powerhouse partnership is delivering jobs, growth and opportunities for our people, and it will only go from strength to strength in the coming years,’’ PM Johnson said.

The UK will confirm major new science and tech collaboration, including a Digital Health partnership and a joint investment fund for Indian deep-tech and AI start-ups, supported by the UK and Indian governments; new AI scholarships for Indian students jointly funded by the UK Government’s Chevening programme and India’s Adani Group; and a £6m investment from AI healthcare specialists Qure-ai to open a Centre of Excellence in the UK.

"Work is already progressing on cutting red tape for businesses following the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership launched by both Prime Ministers last year, and today our governments will announce new measures to make it easier to export UK-made medical devices to India. This will support UK jobs and create opportunities for British med-tech companies like Redcar-based Micropore Technologies to sell their lifesaving products in India, an import market worth £2.4bn,’’ British High Commission said.

London and New Delhi last year agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to boost investment and jobs as part of a plan to double trade by 2030. This announcement will take the two nations closer to that target.

Meanwhile, in Westminster, MPs are debating whether to investigate Mr Johnson over lockdown parties held in No 10. They will vote on whether to open a probe into whether the PM misled MPs, BBC reports.

According to The Guardian, En route to India, Johnson had played down Partygate, saying he would concentrate on what he said were more pressing matters. “I think politics has taught me one thing – that you’re better off talking about and focusing on the things that matter, the things that make a real difference to the electorate and not about politicians themselves,” he said, adding, “I’m focused on jobs, growth and a fantastic partnership with India.”

Asked whether there were circumstances in which he could resign over Partygate, he said: “Not a lot springs to mind at the moment.”

Instead, Johnson stressed the importance of securing a free trade deal with India, hinting that the UK might be prepared to relax its immigration regime in order to do so, the report said.

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