Supported by Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, the Manchester India Partnership has backed numerous initiatives to boost business and cultural ties between the two regions, securing jobs and investment

The value of trade with India for North West businesses hit £1bn for the first time in 2019, according to analysis from Deloitte.

Working in partnership with the Manchester India Partnership (MIP) , the business advisory firm’s analysis showed that the total value of imports and exports involving companies from the country exceeded £1bn in 2019 compared to £887m in 2015.

Acknowledging the importance of trade links with India, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership commissioned the Greater Manchester and India Strategy in 2014/2015.

GM LEP are members of the Manchester India Partnership and support its work both financially and through other activity.

In October 2019, GM LEP backed a delegation to India led by Greater Manchester Mayor and LEP board member Andy Burnham, and MIP representatives including Jo Ahmed, global employer services partner at Deloitte in the North West.

Speaking about the findings of Deloitte’s research, she said: “As these latest figures show, India has become a key trading partner for North West companies in recent years, overtaking some of the more established European markets.

“The opportunity for the region to export to India is now enormous, with British products often seen as best in class due to the heritage of our manufacturing expertise. We have already seen the creation of a UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), providing direct dialogue about an enhanced trade relationship and working towards a free trade agreement.

“However, we have also seen a greater number of investments made by Indian companies in North West infrastructure projects, adding significant value to the regional economy and further strengthening the relationship between the two locations. Looking beyond the current pandemic, as connectivity continues to improve, we expect to see more and more of the region’s businesses explore options to partner with India in the coming years.”

Deloitte’s analysis study comes as the latest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures reveal that India was the third most active investor in new projects in Greater Manchester between 2017 and 2020, behind Germany and the US.

The 15 projects created 792 jobs.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the region has continued its commitment to strengthening ties with India. Last month, Virgin Atlantic announced the launch of new direct flights to Mumbai and Delhi from Manchester Airport, starting from December and January respectively.

The benefits of greater connectivity between the North West and India was highlighted in a 2018 report conducted by Deloitte on behalf of the Confederation of Indian Industry and Manchester India Partnership.

Among key benefits of building trade links with India are the country’s population – the second largest in the world – and that it has the world’s fastest growing economy.

The Greater Manchester One Year International Strategy (available here) was signed off by GM LEP Co-chairs Lou Cordwell and Mo Isap, and board member Cllr Elise Wilson, GMCA Economy portfolio lead, in October 2020. It highlights India as a prime market and global target for trade with Greater Manchester.

According to analysis, new routes to Indian centres could support the creation of an additional 2,000 jobs and unlock up to £400m extra in GDP for the North in the next five years.

Improving relationships with India is also reflected on a national level, with more than 800 Indian-owned companies established in the UK, creating over 110,000 jobs.

During the 2019 mayoral delegation, the MIP video was shown to hundreds of delegates in India to celebrate Greater Manchester’s existing links and showcase the city-region’s key sector strengths including digital, advanced materials, health innovation and green growth.