Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted India’s invitation to be the chief guest at Republic Day on January 26 – the second UK prime minister to attend the event after John Major in 1993 – and has invited India to join the UK’s G7 summit next year.
Downing Street announced on Tuesday that Johnson will travel to India in January 2021 to strengthen a key strategic relationship which supports jobs and investment across the UK as part of his first major bilateral visit since taking office, and the first since the UK’s departure from the EU.
An official spokesperson said the trip will kick off a significant year for ‘Global Britain’, when the UK will host both the G7 Leaders’ Meeting and COP26 Summits, as well as a global education conference aimed at getting girls into school, and an event to mark the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in 1946.
Johnson has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accept his invitation, and to invite India to attend the UK’s G7 Summit as one of three guest nations alongside South Korea and Australia, as part of Johnson’s ambition to work with a group of like-minded democracies to advance shared interests and tackle common challenges.
The Prime Minister will use his visit to India to boost our cooperation in areas that matter to the UK and that will be priorities for our international engagement throughout 2021 – from trade and investment, to defence and security, and health and climate change”, a statement said, adding that the visit underlines his commitment to step up the UK’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific region.
The UK and India are significant investors and markets for each other’s economies and our growing trade and investment relationship is worth around £24 billion a year, supporting more than half a million jobs.
There are 842 Indian companies in the UK with a combined turnover of £41.2 billion, creating jobs in all four corners of the United Kingdom.
That includes 19,500 people employed by Tata Consulting Services at sites including Peterborough, Liverpool, and Edinburgh; around 5,700 people in Warrington, Derby, Cardiff, Derry/Londonderry and Belfast working for business support firm Firstsource Solutions – which is soon to open a new office in Middlesbrough; and 1,200 people employed by Accord Healthcare Ltd in Newcastle and Barnstaple to manufacture and supply medicines to the NHS.
Johnson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister Modi and I have pledged to achieve”.
“As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet.”
The statement said that as the ‘pharmacy of the world’ India supplies more than 50% of the world’s vaccines, with over a billion doses of the UK’s Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured at the Serum Institute in Pune.