Britain eyeing huge, long-term investments in Bengal
Posted on Feb 07 2014 | IANS
Kolkata, Feb 7 : Britain is eyeing "substantial, long-term investments" in West Bengal, and is seeking to tap into the state's needs for infrastructure, renewables and up-skilling the workforce, said Greg Barker, Britain's minister for business engagement with India.
Barker's visit comes barely three months after British Prime Minister David Cameron made a stopover in the city and met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Barker was part of the delegation led by Cameron November last year.
"We are looking at huge, substantial investments here (in Bengal)... They will be long-term investments," Barker said during a 'UK and West Bengal in Partnership' seminar organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI).
"We are looking to double trade with India by 2015 and Kolkata is a strategic priority for Britain's businesses," said Barker, who also officiates as the British Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change.
Leading a 16-member British business delegation, the minister spoke about strengthening economic ties with the state and follow up on the agreement signed on his last visit between his government and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to work towards a low carbon and climate-resilient Kolkata as part of the Corporation's Vision 2020 strategy for the city.
"Tackling climate change is an economic as well as environmental imperative. This is a key theme rising up to the challenge for both Britain and Bengal governments," he said.
Other areas of focus include public-private partnerships in infrastructure development, regeneration and restoration projects and skilled workforce.
"British experts advised on the riverfront development a few years ago and now at the invitation of the state government, the experts will be involved in the renovation of the historic Writers' Building," he said.
Pointing out that Britain is the third largest investor in India and India is presently the fifth largest investor in his country, Barker called for inward investments from the Indian businesses.