HC Deb 30 March 2000 vol 347 cc484-5
6. Mr. Jim Cunningham (Coventry, South)

What steps he is taking to encourage UK exports to India. [115665]

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Richard Caborn)

India offers a wealth of opportunity for British trade and investment, and is therefore designated a campaign market for trade promotion by British Trade International. During the visit of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in January, he announced a target of a 20 per cent. increase in bilateral trade. Only last week, I hosted an extremely positive inaugural meeting of the Indo-British Partnership's business council. The council members come from Rolls-Royce, PowerGen, British Airways, JCB and the financial services.

Mr. Cunningham

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Given that many of us have constituents with connections with India, what financial resources have the Government committed to trade with India?

Mr. Caborn

British Trade International has one of the key markets. I think that the investment level is about £800,000. With private sector involvement and joint ventures, we expect the total to be in excess of £1 million. That investment will be aimed very much towards medium-sized companies. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced global enterprise initiatives, and has set a target of 200 partnerships, especially with small and medium-sized companies, where we believe there is a tremendous opportunity in India within the next two years.

Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that motor cars are a great potential export to India? Does he recognise that if we are to export them, we need a motor manufacturing industry, and that Rover is not the only problem? Setting aside nuances about what the Secretary of State heard or did not hear, will the right hon. Gentleman tell me when he last had discussions with Ford about the future of car production at Dagenham? What was the date, and what assurances did he receive about the future of—

Madam Speaker

Order. The export of cars to India is a good subject. I am sure that the Minister can reply to that question.

Mr. Caborn

It was two days ago.