Eyeing India as a key trade partner after exiting from the European Union, the UK on Monday announced a first-ever easier visa regime for Indian businessmen that will come with swifter passage through British airports and access to EU.
India had in past also sought easier visa regime for its nationals and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked his counterpart Theresa May to provide "greater mobility" for its students and researchers.
Speaking at the India-UK Tech Summit, May said: "So we will offer, for the first time to any country that needs visas to enter Britain, what we called 'Registered Traveller Scheme'.
"That means the Indian nationals who frequently come to the UK and to fuel growth in both our countries, the entry process will become significantly easier," she said at the event organised by CII that was also attended by Modi.
She said the businesses will have to fill fewer forms, and they would get access to the EU-EEA (European Economic Area) passport control and swifter passage through British airports.
"In short, more opportunities for Britain and India and a clear message that Britain is very much open for business," she added.
May said it is not just the legal framework that are essential for effective trade and investment, it is about people too.
"It is crucial that those who do need to travel between our countries for business can do so, that is the reason why when I was Home Secretary, I made visa process for Indians much easier," May said.
She further said India now has one of the best UK visa services in the world with more application points than any other country and is the only place where it is possible to get a same day visa.
"...that happened because we listened to our businesses. And we are still listening. Listening to the fact that there are many people from India who are to bring their skill, ideas, businesses to Britain for the good of your economy and ours," May added.
Talking about removing trade and investment barriers, the UK Prime Minister said Britain is working side by side with India to make it easier to do business here.
"We can break down barriers and make it easier to do business...That is why the UK is working side by side with Prime Minister Modi to make it easier to do business in India, for example by strengthening intellectual property rights, and paving the way for world's leading services sector to operate in Indian market benefiting India and UK alike, But I am determined that we will go further," she said.
Meanwhile, underlining economic challenges in the current global environment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India and the UK can leverage technological prowess to create new opportunities, while seeking investments in defence, manufacturing and aerospace sectors.
Speaking at the India-UK Tech Summit, Modi showcased his government's initiatives in sectors like smart cities, startups and digital economy as he sought enhanced engagement with Britain.
"Together, we can create a vibrant and thriving environment for new commercial applications with breakthrough technologies," he said at the event, also attended by visiting UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Modi further said that both countries face numerous economic challenges in the current global environment which directly affect trade and commerce.
"But I am confident that together we can leverage our scientific strengths and technological prowess to create new opportunities," he added.
India, he said, is now the fastest growing large economy with the most open investment climate.
"We also expect 'Make in India' to be a key sector of bilateral engagement. Advanced manufacturing is a special endeavor under this programme. The UK as a leading player can benefit from our liberal FDI policies in defence manufacturing, aerospace and electronics engineering," the Prime Minister said.
He said India's vast traditional knowledge base can be coupled with UK's modern scientific investigation to provide a holistic approach to preventive healthcare. "This can help address some of the modern lifestyle diseases that we face."