This Friday, Derby welcomes India’s Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Mr Dinesh K. Patnaik.
Mr. Patnaik’s visit is part of a number of high profile engagements in the city, including a civic reception hosted by the Mayor and attending Saturday’s opening game of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, at the 3aaa County Ground.
We were delighted when it was announced that Derby would host eight fixtures during the tournament, and with England taking on India in the first game it will be an occasion not to be missed.
But Ambassador Patnaik’s visit is about more than just cricket. In recent months, Derby City Council has been working with local businesses to explore how they can make the most of the enormous opportunities presented by the world’s fastest growing major economy. In the uncertain aftermath of Brexit and with the possibility of Britain leaving the European single market, Derby cannot afford to be parochial. We need to look further afield to secure jobs and investment.
Our city’s largest employers have a global outlook and are already operating in India. But with the right support, our small and medium sized businesses can too. That’s why I recently visited the Consulate in Birmingham to meet Dr Aman Puri and hosted a seminar for local SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) who are looking to expand into the Indian market.
Together with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, the University of Derby and London-based specialists EPG, we’ve been answering questions about the risks and opportunities of doing business in India, as well as navigating some of the cultural and legislative challenges that exist.
After nineteen SMEs attended a ‘Doing Business with India’ breakfast event on 24 May, the feedback we received was enormously positive. A number of local business leaders are now looking to take the next step and will have an opportunity to meet representatives from the Indian High Commission at the reception on Friday.
These events are not solely about encouraging British businesses to invest in India. We also want to showcase Derby as an investment and business destination for Indian entrepreneurs. In fact, India is already the UK’s third largest foreign investor.
Closer economic ties will yield wider benefits, allowing residents in Derby to benefit from the proceeds of growth. It’s the role of the Council to facilitate these relationships by creating the business links that can ultimately lead to job creation and investment.
The Civic Reception will also be an opportunity to present Mr Ranjit Singh Boparan, founder and Chief Executive of the 2 Sisters Food Group,with a certificate of appreciation for his role in preventing the closure of the former S&A Foods factory in Normanton.
When S&A Foods went into administration in October 2015, 300 local jobs were put at risk. But thanks to the actions of a working-group established between the Council and a number of local partners, a new investor was identified and 2 Sisters promptly stepped in. In the time since, the business has invested around £20 million in the Normanton plant and created an additional 424 jobs for people in our city.
In an increasingly globalised world, Derby’s future economic prosperity will depend on the ability of local businesses of all sizes to look beyond national and regional boundaries to secure jobs and investment.
There is no shortage of ambition from SMEs in our city to get involved in growing foreign markets. Derby City Council will continue to do all we can to help local businesses fulfil those ambitions. The visit of the Deputy High Commissioner is an important step in that process.
Baggy Shanker, Cabinet Member for Finance and Governance