Boris Johnson Seeks To Boost Trade With India

(c) Sky News 2012

The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has arrived in India for a six-day trip to promote closer business ties between the British capital and the fast-growing nation.

Brand "Great Britain" is very much in the limelight at the moment following the Olympics and the Jubilee, and Mr Johnson is hoping to capitalise on that success.

British politicians from all sides of the divide believe increasing trade on the sub-continent makes sense at a time of austerity.

On paper, India is a very exciting proposition at a time when growth in the UK is anaemic at best.

It is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, recording an average growth of about 8% a year over the last decade.

Speaking from Delhi on the opening day of his tour, Mr Johnson told Sky News: "There have got to be opportunities for us in London to work with the Indians (Other OTC: INDN.PK - news) and see what we can do to add our expertise.

"Yes, it is true, that Delhi, particularly Mumbai, are growing fast in financial services - but that is good for London, because we have got great expertise in that area. We are here to champion the greatest city on earth.

"We have got to make sure that we are never complacent and that we continue to sell our wares across the world.

"We are in competition now with cities around the world that will want to attract this kind of business. I have a delegation with me here representing all sorts of sectors - retail, builders, banking - and they are here to show London's openness to Indian investment."

With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India is a huge potential market.

The nation is also very young - the average age is just 25 - meaning there are plenty of potential consumers.

But despite the attractive figures, there are pitfalls.

Many companies entering the Indian market are often overwhelmed by a chaotic business environment, bloated bureaucracy and corruption.

However, the Confederation of British Industry's adviser in India, Mark Runacres, says there is money to be made with the right business plan.

"Our business backyard in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) is depressed. America is just beginning to emerge, and there are very few real growth markets - and India is one of them," he said.

Therefore, he added, "for British business at the moment it is a very significant place both for sales of their goods and services and investment".

The London Mayor will be visiting three cities in India - Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai - over the next five days.

As well as promoting London's business assets, Mr Johnson will also try to encourage more Indian students to attend the capital's universities.