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PM pledges UK support to India on major infrastructure "corridor"

The UK will support India in its plans to construct an economic 'corridor' between the country's financial and technology hubs of Mumbai and Bangalore, the Prime Minister has announced.

David Cameron is currently in India as head of a trade delegation of over 100 UK business representatives, education specialists and Parliamentarians. In the first speech of his visit, delivered at a business event in Mumbai, he said that the 'corridor' project could involve the construction of new towns as well as related infrastructure.

Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, was part of a task force which prepared the vision document for the project ahead of Cameron's visit. Infrastructure law expert Martin Harman of Pinsent Masons said that the new corridor would "release the commercial potential" of the region as well as providing businesses in both the UK and India with new investment opportunities.

"Cooperation between the UK and India for the creation of an economic corridor to release the commercial potential which exists in the vibrant region between Mumbai and Bangalore will promote long-term economic benefits for both the UK and India as well as enhancing living standards, health, education and training for those living in that region," he said.

"It has the potential to provide the private sectors of both India and the UK with opportunities to work together in an innovative and cooperative environment to bring industries, manufacturers, centres of learning and international investors to that region which can impact favourably on the local population as well as bringing tangible economic benefits in terms of both trade and investment to the UK," he said.

The Prime Minister also announced the introduction of a same-day visa service for travellers from India to the UK as part of a drive to "remove barriers" to cooperation between the two countries. The Government also plans to "rewrite the rules on the high-level technology" that it shares with Indian businesses, to encourage closer partnership with businesses in the UK.

Over 100 companies from the UK are participating in the three-day visit, alongside representatives from institutions as diverse as the Stock Exchange, British Museum and the Premier League. Politicians including universities minister David Willetts and energy minister Greg Barker are also included in the delegation. They are due to meet with a number of Indian government ministers, inward investors and businesses in both Mumbai and Delhi. India is one of the world's fastest growing economies and is predicted to become the third largest by 2050, according to the UK Government.

The UK is now the largest European investor into India, according to David Cameron's speech, while Indian investment into the UK is more than half of what it invests in the whole of the EU.

The link between Mumbai and Bangalore will be the second such project planned for India following the 2006 announcement of an industrial corridor covering the 2,700 kilometres between Mumbai and Delhi with support from the Japanese government. The Mumbai-Bangalore link, which will involve nine districts and cover 1,000km, will require significant private investment, Cameron said.

"I think the challenge for all of us, with big budget deficits and governments that struggle to raise the revenue they need, is we have to find ways of planning it publicly, but getting it built and financed privately," he said. "And that is one of the things that my delegation has got – a lot of talented people in those sorts of services."

"And that's why we're looking at, with the Indian Government, this corridor between Mumbai and Bangalore, because with me I've got architects, planners, private finance experts who can work out a complete solution, putting together all the things that you need to have great infrastructure," he said.

He also called on the Indian Government to do more to encourage foreign direct investment into the national economy, stating that the Indian Government also had to "take barriers [to trade] down".

"Britain's an open economy and we encourage that investment in," he said. "So, I think, in return we should be having a conversation which we'll have this week with the Indian government about opening up the Indian economy, trying to make it easier to do business here, allowing insurance and banking companies to do more foreign direct investment into the Indian economy."

"There are still many rules and regulations in the Indian economy associated with how you did things in the past, which we think, if you change, will make your economy grow faster, will deliver more jobs, more wealth, more prosperity across your country," he said.

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