Developed in collaboration by the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC), PwC and the UK India Business Council, the Stronger Together strategy identifies a five-year programme of activity to unlock mutually beneficial and sustainable economic opportunities between the region and India, as both territories look to rebuild from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An official event held at PwC’s Midlands office One Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, launched the strategy to market, hosted by WMIP Chair and local businessman, Dr Jason Wouhra. Over 70 delegates attended in person as well as hundreds across the globe who tuned in to a live stream online.
Senior officials from the UK and international trade community and regional business leaders were among those to endorse the strategy and its aims, including Dr Shashank Vikram, Consul General of India in Birmingham, and Gerry Grimstone, Minister for Investment. He said:
“Our regions are the jewels of the UK crown, each with their own special properties, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the West Midlands, where there is a special relationship with India to be celebrated. The region has a vast Indian heritage, and I’ve no doubt this will be proudly on show at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year.
“We are working with our teams and our counterparts across India to strengthen UK ties further by establishing a Free Trade Agreement, that will unlock additional economic growth through trade and investment. The West Midlands India Partnership has seen fantastic success since launching in 2020, bringing together the most promising growth areas and delivering results for communities, and I’ve no doubt that its work supporting a vibrant business environment will continue our mission to increase exports, investment, growth and jobs between the UK and India.”
The strategy outlines five key priorities for establishing closer links with India. These include:
- Promoting the West Midlands’ pivotal role at the beating heart of the UK’s living bridge with India
- Accelerating R&D innovation through enhanced science and education collaboration
- Increasing two-way trade and investment within the existing West Midlands-India corridor
- Further investing in WMIP to boost engagement between the region and India; and
- Maximising the economic potential of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
The region is already taking steps to leverage the economic legacy of the Games through a dedicated Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) designed to attract additional investment, export deals and visitors to the region from Commonwealth countries, including India. Running from 2021 to 2023, the programme could secure more than £650 million of new overseas investment into the UK, and create £7 million of additional export deals until 2027. It is also expected to attract an additional 39,000 visitors to the region and UK until 2027*, with an estimated £12 million in visitor spend.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“As we recover from the pandemic and look to make the most of our trading links outside of the EU, there is a real opportunity for the West Midlands to become the beating heart of the UK’s relationship with India.
“Our region is already home to an established base of Indian companies and, despite the pandemic, remains the leading destination for foreign investment outside of London. It is absolutely critical we build on this, which is why the new strategy launched by the West Midlands India Partnership is so important.”
The West Midlands is the UK’s leading location for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) outside London and the South East, landing 145 projects during the 2020/21 financial year – 9.4% of the UK’s total. India is a leading source of the region’s FDI, with 76 Indian investments worth over £3.5bn secured in the region in the last 10 years**.
Among the notable Indian investors to choose the region over the last decade are Tata Motors, State Bank of India, Infosys, Microland and, more recently, TVS Motors, which in January 2021 announced a multi-million pound relocation of the UK Headquarters for subsidiary Norton Motorcycles to a new state-of-the-art facility in Solihull.
The strategy is the latest milestone in WMIP’s engagement programme. Since inception in June 2020, the Partnership has led extensive activity to strengthen the region’s Indian industry networks, hosting digital delegations at major in-market events, such as the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) CEO Mission, and the Nasscom Virtual Trade Mission.
Steve Page, Midlands International Markets Leader, PwC & Executive Board member of the West Midlands India Partnership (WMIP), added:
“We are proud to have helped develop the strategy for the WMIP. The strategy will support the region’s long-term economic growth plans by developing stronger links and opportunities for collaboration with the Indian market, particularly as we prepare for the shared opportunities the Business and Tourism Programme and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will bring. We look forward to supporting discussions that will unlock even greater opportunities for growth across trade, education and the visitor economy.”