Algo Legal hosted a panel discussion on understanding the impact on India-UK relationship post Brexit at the Algo office on Tuesday. The guests for the day included Mr. Parmjit Singh, the Head of India Business Group at the top-tier UK law firm Eversheds Sutherland and Mr. Vijetha Shastry, the executive director of TiE Bangalore.
With Brexit now finally a reality, when the UK exited the EU at the end of January 2020, there are a lot of open questions on the impact this will have; with trade in particular. Britain will take some time to iron out the road-map post the final separation, though Parmjit Singh believed the close relationship between India and the UK could only get stronger. Mr. Singh, who has been with Eversheds Sutherland since 1987, remarked “I’ve always had a keen interest in India. Why India? Well, why not India? India is a natural place for the UK, and international companies to do business.”
Mr Singh also said that with the resounding mandate that Mr. Boris Johnson got in the recent election has bought stability to the entire process. As a result, the pound sterling has gained some stability and coupled with certainty being injected into the UK economy, the opportunities available have only increased.
It was discussed that from a strategic standpoint, the large corporates of the UK should potentially be looking at more investment opportunities in India. Mr. Shastry remarked “One amazing thing about the Brits is that they’ve understood that they need to play this game very differently. They’ve tapped the China market; they’ve tapped the European markets and they’ve understood that things need to change. They are now looking at the Indian markets.” A few novel areas of investment which have been actively explored by the UK companies in India are in the specialized Gin business, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and Artificial Intelligence sectors.
Entry barriers, which was a major worrisome factor for Indian corporates, seems to be slowly withering away as the UK drops its guard. Mr. Singh said “UK is always open to business, always promoting corporates coming in. UK is always not wanting to prevent corporates coming in and buying assets or companies in the UK and that’s a very different approach to what you are now seeing in the US and other countries as well, where they are starting to put up barriers.”
While the idea of investments into the Ireland remains an attractive proposition, given access to larger markets, a competitive and stable tax system, and relaxed labour laws, the UK continues to be an appealing investment destination. Being a vast economy by size, the UK government plans on providing lots of incentives, making the visa process easier, and opening up the markets. In fact, there has been a visible change in terms of hospitality, the welcome policies and approachability of the UK Government.
In light of this, the importance of a competent and approachable legal advisor was highlighted and how they can help act as bridges and make connects between the two countries. Their role and counsel would be extremely crucial to build trust and act as beacons for start-ups and SMEs looking to enter either the UK or India.
With investments flowing to and from the UK, and the foreseeable collaboration between India and the UK, the enhancement of legal advisory in sectors like technology, financial services and healthcare is highly anticipated.
While there may be nay-sayers heralding doom post Brexit, the discussions gave enough insight into the current situation and how with the implementation of positive synergies, the relationship between India and the UK could reach new heights, thus benefitting both.
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