Osborne and Hague start India visit

George Osborne and William Hague Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague are the latest high-profile foreign leaders to visit India after the general elections

Britain's Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague have begun a two-day trip to India.

They are looking to open up investment opportunities for UK firms in India's defence and infrastructure sector, and attract Indian investment into Britain.

The visit comes as a new government led by Narendra Modi has taken charge in India - Asia's third-largest economy.

Mr Modi is widely expected to announce new reforms to boost economic growth.

"I believe a stronger relationship with Britain will help deliver the new economic policy of the Indian government," Mr Osborne said in a speech in Mumbai.

"Prime Minister Modi is seeking more investment in India's economy - and I want British companies to provide it, and the British government to support it."

Meanwhile, Mr Osborne also announced that Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla is to invest up to £100m in the UK.

'Excitement and optimism'

India's economy has struggled in recent years with rising price pressures and problems with bureaucracy and corruption.

That has hurt the confidence of foreign investors looking to enter the country.

However, a landslide win for the Mr Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent general elections has sparked hopes of a revival in India's economy.

Both foreign and local investors have been hoping that Mr Modi will introduce fresh reforms and boost investment in key sectors to help spur growth.

As a result, various countries have been keen to boost ties with India's new government and open up opportunities for their businesses.

"It's great to be here at a time when the excitement about the Indian economy, and the optimism about the prospects for future growth, are palpable," Mr Osborne said.

"And the excitement here is matched by new confidence among international investors abroad in the future of the Indian economy.

"It is a measure of the ambition and drive and pace of the new government of prime minister Modi, that this complete turn-around in sentiment about the Indian economy has been achieved in just seven short weeks, since that stunning election victory."

The visit by Britain's two senior ministers follows a series of other high-profile visits to India - including those by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

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