LONDON: The Policy Chair of the City of London Corporation is set for her first visit to India next week to strengthen ties between the British capital and India in the field of financial and professional services.
Catherine McGuiness, who is the political chief of London's financial district or "Square Mile", will also seek to reassure Indian financial firms worried about Brexit and the risks of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) in a feared no-deal situation as the March 29 Brexit deadline nears.
"My first visit to India comes at an interesting point in time for both our countries. In the UK our focus remains firmly on Brexit, while in India the conversation is all about the pending budget and elections," McGuiness said on the eve of her visit, planned between January 27 and 30.
"But while these political issues may dominate headlines for good reason right now, it's crucial we don't lose sight of the larger picture and the importance of the strong relationship between our two countries," she said.
The City of London Corporation's policy chief pointed out that while trade between the UK and India stands at an "impressive" 18.8 billion pounds, there is still enormous potential to expand this relationship even further.
She is set to travel to Delhi and Mumbai for meetings with senior government and industry leaders to discuss how to boost relations and knowledge sharing in areas like fintech, green finance, re-insurance and non-performing assets.
Some of the pre-scheduled meetings on her agenda include interactions with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), representatives of the Maharashtra state government, and Alice Vaidyan, Chairman of GIC Re.
In Mumbai, she will also meet Surendra Rosha, CEO of HSBC India, who recently joined the City of London Corporation's influential India Advisory Council.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Ruchi Ghanashyam, described the City of London Corporation as an important partner of the Indian mission in London, working to boost economic and commercial activities between India and the UK particularly in the fields of financial services and fintech.
"This visit will foster greater understanding of the City of London in India as well as deepen the already close and strong trade and economic relationship," she said.
A new report on regulatory technology (regtech) is also set to be launched during the upcoming tour of India.
"The publication is the third and final document in a fintech-related series produced by the City Corporation alongside PwC India, and outlines UK regtech expertise, the market opportunity in India and a recommendation on how to improve collaboration in the sector," the City of London Corporation said.
The Corporation says it has run a representative office in Mumbai since 2007 to enable long-term relationship building with financial sector stakeholders across India.
Around 10-15 Indian financial firms are based in the Square Mile, which the City Corporation works closely with.
Sanjiv Chadha, Regional Head of State Bank of India (SBI)UK, said, "SBI is delighted that Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness will make her inaugural visit to India."
"The Bank is pleased to work with the City of London Corporation in further developing relationships in the financial and professional services space.
It is a relationship that continues to provide unique and important opportunities for growth in both the Asian and UK markets," he added.
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile of London.