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1993 - Mr Major’s Statement en Route to New Delhi

Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement made en route to New Delhi on Saturday 23rd January 1993.


PRIME MINISTER:

Just a few words about why this trip and why now. Why now? I was delighted to have the invitation to be India’s guest on Republic Day, it is their greatest celebration and it is, so far as I am aware, the first time a British Prime Minister has been invited to be guest of honour. I think that is an indication of the changing and improving relationship with India over the last two or three years and I am absolutely delighted at the invitation.

But apart from that there are some very practical matters to discuss. In terms of diplomacy and politics India is a very substantial regional power, a very important leading member of the Commonwealth and we have a large range of international and bilateral matters that are well worth discussing and I look forward to meeting the Prime Minister to run through them.

Thirdly of course there is the question of trade and investment. India is a very large market, we have a substantial trade flow from the United Kingdom to India and from India to the United Kingdom, also a substantial investment pattern. But I think what has been achieved so far is really just the tip of the iceberg of what the prospects may be for the future and I think we need to take a much more positive approach looking abroad for export opportunities and investment opportunities. It is after all only 83 months to the millennium and we are operating in an increasingly competitive world. I think we are going to have to be increasingly competitive and increasingly forceful on behalf of the United Kingdom as well.

Sales abroad means jobs at home and I think that is a point that the British government and British industry will need increasingly to take on board. So for that reason I have a large number of front line businessmen with me, they will all be making their own deals, I will not be fixing deals for them, but they will be arranging their own investment possibilities, their own trade prospects. Some of them will be relatively short-term discussions, others will be here looking at business prospects over a run of years in the future. It is the first time that I have taken a group of businessmen on an overseas trip, I hope it will be successful and if it is I would expect it would set a pattern for some, not all, but some trips in the future.

So I think those are the principal reasons for the visit and I look forward to it very much.