Kolkata, Feb 7: Britain is eyeing “substantial, long-term investments” in West Bengal, and seeks to tap into the state’s needs for infrastructure, renewables and up-skilling the workforce, Greg Barker, minister for business engagement with India, said here Friday.
“We are looking at huge, substantial investments here (in Bengal)…they will be long-term investments,” said Barker, who is heading one of the largest British trade delegations to the eastern metropolis in recent times.
“This is one of the largest trade delegations to Kolkata in recent times…the companies who are here as part of this business delegation, have expertise broadly in two areas: infrastructure and education, skills and training,” he said during a “UK and West Bengal in Partnership” seminar organised jointly by CII and United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI).
Barker’s visit comes barely three months after British Prime Minister David Cameron made a stopover in the city and met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Barker was part of the delegation led by Cameron in November last year.
“We are looking to double trade with India by 2015 and Kolkata is a strategic priority for UK businesses,” said Barker, who also officiates as the minister of state for energy and climate change.
Leading a 16-member UK business delegation in Kolkata, 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 UK and Bengal governments,” he said.
Other areas of focus include public-private partnerships in infrastructure development, regeneration and restoration projects and skilled workforce.
“UK experts advised on the riverfront development a few years ago and now at the invitation of the state government, UK experts will be involved in the renovation of the historic Writers’ Building,” he said.
Pointing out that UK is the third largest investor in India and India is presently the fifth largest investor in his country, Barker called for inward investments from Indian businesses.