India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the UK is its third-largest investor. Benjamin Coren discovers the benefits of doing business in this innovative market
Made up of 29 states and seven union territories, India is a vast country packed with potential.
With a wide range of trading opportunities and a fast-growing economy encompassing multiple sectors, it is an attractive prospect for UK companies willing to navigate potential pitfalls and be patient with what can seem strange and slow cultural practices. English is widely spoken in India so the good news is language needn’t be a barrier to business. Other benefits include common legal and administrative systems, rising personal incomes that are creating a new middle-class consumer market, and urban growth that has created more than 50 cities of over a million people.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Indian economy in 2017 was nominally worth US$2.611 trillion, making it the sixth largest economy in the world. Top exports to India include mineral fuels and oils, gems and precious metal, electrical machinery, mechanical appliances, organic chemicals, iron, steel, plastics, fertilisers, animal or vegetable fats and oils, and medical and surgical equipment.
Businesses need to be aware of the potential risks they may face doing business in India, however. It is a competitive market, and price is an extremely important consideration for consumers. Additionally, there is a risk of delays due to administrative requirements, infrastructure challenges, extremes of weather and a high risk of bribery and corruption.
What's more, India is not a single nation market and each state can resemble a separate country, often with its own language and idiosyncratic practices.
The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, visited the UK in April with a huge boost for the UK economy as a range of new Indian investments worth more than £1billion will create or safeguard 5,750 British jobs. Alongside the investment, a new India-UK trade partnership has been forged, seeking to improve the accessibility of trade for businesses in both countries. The partnership will focus on three key sectors: life sciences, IT and food and drink.
Total trade in goods and services between the UK and India was £18billion in 2017, a 15% increase from 2016. And UK exports to India, led by innovative machinery and mechanical appliances, contribute a large element of growth.
The UK's International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, says: “It is clear that the opportunities for growth in trade with India are plenty, and as an international economic department we will continue to use tools such as trade missions not only to boost UK exports, but also to help businesses of all sizes forge ties and cultivate relationships with potential buyers and investors.”
The airline flies twice-daily from London Heathrow to both Mumbai and Delhi. It also flies daily from Heathrow to Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Operates from Heathrow to Delhi (twice a day) and Mumbai (daily)
Operates a daily non-stop service from Heathrow to Delhi.
The airline has increased capacity from Heathrow to Mumbai to three flight a day. Jet also operates a daily service to Delhi and will launch a four-times-weekly service between Manchester and Mumbai from November.
One Stop Options
Emirates flies from its Dubai base to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Etihad Airways operates a similar network via its Abu Dhabi hub, to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. Gulf Air flies from Bahrain to Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Oman Air operates via its Muscat hub to Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Qatar Airways flies from several UK airports via its Doha hub to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Turkish Airlines operates via Istanbul to Delhi and Mumbai, while Russian carrier Aeroflot operates a regular service via Moscow Sheremetyevo.
New Delhi: Major brands are well-represented in India. Travellers should check out Hilton Mayur Vihar, The Leela Palace, and Bloomrooms in Jangpura is close to the station and opened last year.
Mumbai: Trident Nariman Point commands excellent views of Marine Drive and is in the heart of the financial and business district. Alternative options include Vivanta by Taj–President, the Oberoi Mumbai, Novotel Mumbai and centrally located Hotel Kohinoor Elite.
Chennai: Travellers should check out international brand offerings including Hilton Chennai, Le Royal Meridien, ITC Grand Chola and Radisson Blu Hotel Chennai City Centre. Alternative include The Residency Towers, The Gateway Hotel IT Expressway and The Park Hotel which is located close to the train station.
Bangalore: Known as India’s Silicon Valley, popular hotel choices include the Mövenpick Hotel and Spa and the tech-savvy Davanam Sarovar Portico. Vivanta By Taj MG Road offers chic style with a pool and spa.
Hyderabad: Another destination for the IT industry, travellers should consider the Park Hyatt Hyderabad, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre or the luxurious ITC Kakatiya with its state-of-the-art business facilities. Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Fort St. George and Chennai’s Government Museum.
Bangalore: Bangalore Palace offers tours and Bannerghatta National Park includes a zoo and animal rescue centre.
Hyderabad: Check out the 16th century Charminar mosque. Ramoji Film City offers tours and has a theme park. Cultural attractions include Salar Jung and Golkonda Fort.
Information correct at time of publication: June 2018