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Last updateTue, 07 Apr 2015 11pm

#UKIndiaTrade: Minister pledges SUBSTANTIAL investments in West Bengal

Britain's long-term plans to reap the benefits of India's economic growth is gathering pace after a government minister announced plans to make "substantial" investments in West Bengal, a state that was, until recently, largely overlooked by foreign investors.

The announcement was made by Greg Barker, MP, the UK's Minister for Business Engagement with India during a visit to West Bengal this week.

Mr Barker, who was also part of Prime Minister David Cameron's business delegation to India in November, said the UK was keen to tap into the state's needs for infrastructure, renewables and up-skilling the workforce.

"We are looking to double trade with India by 2015 and Kolkata is a strategic priority for Britain's businesses," said Mr Barker.

Addressing a conference organized by UK Trade and Investment and the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Minister, who also handles the UK coalition's Climate Change portfolio, emphasised on the cooperation between the two nations in the sustainability sector, particularly in Kolkata.

"Tackling climate change is an economic as well as environmental imperative.  This is a key theme rising up to the challenge for both Britain and Bengal governments," he said.

Other areas of focus include public-private partnerships in infrastructure development, regeneration and restoration projects and skilled workforce.

"British experts advised on the riverfront development (in Kolkata) a few years ago and now at the invitation of the state government, the experts will be involved in the renovation of the historic Writers' Building," he said.

Pointing out that Britain is the third largest investor in India and India is presently the fifth largest investor in his country, Barker also called for inward investments from the Indian businesses.

West Bengal is home to the sixth largest state economy in India and has enjoyed rapid economic growth in recent years under the leadership of controversial Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee.

Much like the neighbouring state of Bihar, a dramatic reduction in lawlessness and corruption has led to West Bengal enjoying unprecedented growth, registering GDP growth of 7.6% compared with a national figure of less than five percent.

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