The Northern Asian Power Mission: India 1-5 March offered businesses in the North of England and India the opportunities to discover the benefits of bilateral trade.

The five day virtual conference provided businesses across the North with the opportunity to meet their Indian counterparts in order to expand and deepen relationships.

According to the Government, the UK-India trade relationship was worth £23 billion in 2019, while the latest India meets Britain Tracker 2020 shows a growing number of businesses selected the North as a base for operations (14% for 2020) up from 11% in 2019 and 2018.

However now as the UK prepares to “build back better” and with the Government remaining committed to the levelling up agenda the organisers of this virtual event hope now is the time to reap the economic benefits of the living bridge between the UK and India.

International trade will be crucial in the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda with inward investment currently skewed towards London and the South East, according to the president of business organisation CBI.

“The UK is the second largest recipient, sometimes third, of inward investment in the world. “That is phenomenal and yet a disproportionate amount of that comes into the South East and London," said Lord Bilimoria.

“We need to make sure that every part of the UK is as attractive for that inward investment. That’s why it’s crucial that we promote the regions of our country including the North

“It is a question of shouting from the rooftops of that amazing excellence that we have to offer in every region of the country. The Government has got a job to do to promote that.”

The founder and chairman of Cobra Beer added "there is a great appetite in India for stronger trade ties with Britain. His own business has three breweries in India.

“Indian companies have always seen the UK as a gateway to Europe,” he said. “Even though we have left the European Union, I believe Indian companies will still see the UK as a gateway to Europe.”

Lord Bilimoria added that Britain needed to ensure that this remains the case post-Brexit and the trade deal agreed with Europe is a good starting base.

The pandemic has shown that collaboration and not protectionism is the way forward and the same applies to trade policy, says the crossbench peer.

“It’s a health crisis and an economic crisis that has affected the whole world,” he said. “What has worked in this pandemic is collaboration.”

He points to the vaccine diplomacy displayed by India sending millions of doses to other countries.

The five day conference featured panels attended by great speakers across the UK and India. With nearly 100 speakers and just over 1000 delegates the master classes included:

Industry targeted trade masterclasses in:

  • Creative Industries and Culture
  • Healthcare and Life Science
  • Technology and Digital Markets
  • Food and Drink
  • Industrial and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Energy
  • Celebrating IWD: Women in Business and Leadership

For those who were unable to attend the live session, we have made available recordings of all these master classes in full here: