Non-liberalization of visa policy by the UK will hurt trade ties with India, says India

Express News Global

Published: January 24, 2017


The insistence by Theresa May to not to soften her tough stand on immigration from India could endanger the most crucial bilateral trade agreement of the UK post-Brexit. The Prime Minister of Britain has all along been insisting that exit from the European Union will facilitate the nation to secure trade partners across the world.

As a part of this pursuit, she first visited India, the important fastest growing economy in the world. She was also accompanied by a huge business delegation in her first tour outside the Europe after the vote on Brexit.

Meanwhile as the efforts to seal a bilateral trade have been continuing till yesterday, the senior officials and diplomats of Government of India have warned that Mays’s refusal to liberalize visas could actually dampen her hopes for trade with India.

Boris Johnson has arrived in New Delhi and he will be meeting several members of the government and business leaders. He also anticipates a meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Johnson will be explaining to the Indian leaders and the business community the position of the UK on Brexit and impress that the exit from EU will actually be beneficial to advance trade and business prospects between both the nations.

Johnson said that the need of the hour was to accentuate the relationship between both the nations with unhindered trade relationship. This was not the time to build barriers between the two nations but the time to destroy barriers. This has to be in the form of creation of employment that offers good pay packages that will comfort and give hope to the people, added Johnson.

On the other hand, the officials of the Government of India immediately drew his attention to the issue of restriction on visas for Indians. They said that unhindered movement of people could not be bifurcated from the unrestricted movement of goods, investments and services, as quoted by the Times of India.

The Advisor to the Government of India on Immigration, S Irudaya Rajan added that India is a very crucial nation for the UK. Any restrictions on unhindered movement of talent let that be in the form of students or workers would not spell good for the UK, he explained.

Parallel to this, in London Mrs. May spelled out her post-Brexit strategy that the exit from the EU would be complete and tough that will mean an exit from the single market of the EU and its customs union. Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, the High Commissioner of India to the UK reacted to this by saying that the issue of visas could not be kept in isolation and unaddressed.

Mr. Sinha drew parallel with other nations and the UK when it came to the issue of accepting workers and the students from the streams such as IT.

There are certain issues in the education sector. On the one hand here are nations such as Australia, the US, France, and Germany that are very actively campaigning in the campuses across India and making efforts to attract the talented students. There is a significant increase the immigration of Indian students to these nations, while for the UK the numbers are actually drastically decreasing, explained Sinha.

This is quite problematic as Britain has always been the first preference for students in India for obvious reasons. It has to be ensured that a good number of students immigrate to the UK as they are doing very well all across the globe, explained Mr. Sinha.

From 29,900 students who immigrated to the UK in the academic year 2011 to 12, the numbers of Indian students have fallen down to 16, 745 in the year 2015 to 16. The interesting fact is that students are included in the figures of total migrants to the UK while actually, they are provisional visitors. It has been pointed out by the critics that by cutting down the number of student immigrants, the UK government is cosmetically portraying that it is cutting down total immigration.

Mr. Sinha also raised the issues of restrictions that have been imposed on the workers of the IT industry. He said that the UK was the prime destination in Europe for movement of IT professionals in India and it is very crucial to ensure that their mobility is unrestricted, added Sinha.