It’s an absolute honour to be back here in India speaking at the Make in India Conference.
And it’s great to be in Bengaluru –the aviation capital of India. I was excited to learn that almost two thirds of India’s aerospace Industry is concentrated here in Karnataka and I’m hugely looking forward to seeing the best of it for myself when the Aero India 2017 Air Show starts here tomorrow.
What a great way to mark my first visit to India as Minister for Defence Procurement –and I look forward to many more engagements to come.
But whilst this trip is a first for me as Defence Minister – I’m very conscious it fits into an ambitious agenda of collaboration between our two countries, exchanging ideas, expertise and technology that really produces a benefit for our two countries, but also globally.
We have fed off each other from business and cuisine to cricket….a game that we might have invented in the UK but one that you’ve unequivocally cornered the market in.
Which makes me wonder…how can we persuade Virat Kohli to become a fast jet pilot instead?
It goes without saying that our two nations enjoy a strong relationship: The UK diplomatic network in India is one of the largest in the World.
India is the third largest investor in the UK, whilst the UK is the largest G20 Investor in India. In fact one in 20 private sector jobs in India is in a UK company.
And India/UK bilateral trade in goods and services was an impressive £17.5billion in 2015 and growing at 3 per cent a year.
Just last Thursday the Indian Civil Aviation Minister and UK Aviation Minister signed a new deal to boost tourism and trade between Britain and India.
And of course our close bond was demonstrated at the highest levels in November, when our Prime Minister came to India on her first bilateral visit outside Europe.
But perhaps some of the best examples of our valuable bilateral partnership can be seen in the Defence Aerospace Sector.
The UK has been a partner of the Indian defence aero sector since the very beginning – giving us an unrivalled pedigree when it comes to the transfer and exchange of aero technology and skills between our countries.
British aero companies, many of whom are now part of BAE Systems, have been active in India for almost one hundred years; and Rolls-Royce was among the first to work with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in the early days.
In recent years, HAL has built over 100 Jaguars and nearly as many Hawks with the assistance of BAE
Systems powered by Rolls Royce engines –and a relationship that as we’ve just heard continues today and one that I hope will flourish.
Meanwhile, both Rolls Royce and BAE Systems have explored or established joint ventures with Indian partners, to deliver support to the their products in India.
And I am delighted to announce and welcome today a joint venture between MBDA and L&T, a perfect example of the UK’s willingness to invest in Indian Industry.
But what really excites me is not our collaborative past or present, but our future –which brings me to my main point today and indeed the point of your conference.
What makes the UK the ideal ‘Make In India’ partner in the Defence Aerospace domain is our nation’s collaborative potential.
The opportunities are enormous. And we’ll get a glimpse of them this week when we see BAE Systems and HAL unveil their Advanced Hawk Ground Demonstrator at Aero India 2017.
And there’s more where that came from –with huge opportunities for India and the UK to work together on the Advanced Multi-role Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Engine as well the Starstreak Missile.
These are the perfect examples of the next stage of Make in India –industry working together across borders to design and manufacture new technology rather than simply transferring it from one country to another.
New technology that will not only offer both partners defence benefits, but that will create export opportunities and joint economic growth and jobs.
These are the types of projects that really excite us in the UK –because in this increasingly complex and competitive world, the difference between surviving and thriving will be nations’ willingness to pool their resources.
Not just its critical technologies, but the innovative thinking, the skills and intellectual capital that drive them. And the good news is that our two nations are creating the mechanisms to do just that.
Mechanisms for Future Success
Our Capability Partnerships across the land air and maritime domains are giving our two nations an
unprecedented opportunity: To develop a truly productive defence relationship through partnering on a range of strategic capabilities – including Aircraft Carriers, Frigates and Armoured Vehicles.
Underpinning those partnerships is our Defence Equipment Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding – an agreement that we’re in the process of refreshing and expanding…moving it away from simply looking at transactions and towards genuine joint capability development.
And shortly our Secretary of State for Defence, my boss, will travel to India to sign that refreshed Memorandum of Understanding as well as chair our nations’ annual Strategic Defence Dialogue: a dialogue that will build on the progress we’ve made to date in our Capability Partnerships.
Finally, but no less crucially, our countries are enjoying a close Defence Science and Technology relationship that is yielding results – one that has seen our two world class Defence research and development bodies: DSTL in the UK and DRDO in India –working closely alongside each other to distil ideas into reality…ideas that will ensure we can maintain our critical edge on the global stage.
This ambitious programme comes at a point when we are aligning even more closely, according with political and economic dynamics in our two countries and in the regions in which we are operating.
Just at the very moment when you are inviting the world to ‘Make in India’–and specifically today to “Make in Karnataka”–we in the UK are expressing our desire to be a more global Britain –an outward facing nation – one that champions business, innovation and free trade around the world.
As our Prime Minister Theresa May said when she met Prime Minister Modi in November: “More trade, more investment and fewer barriers between our two countries will make us all more prosperous, peaceful and secure. And with this unique partnership there is so much potential for us to advance those things.”
So yes, the UK may be leaving the EU, but we are stepping up our role in the world. I’m proud that the UK economy, the fastest growing major economy in Europe, is the most diverse on earth.
So, there you have it.
The UK Government and UK Industry stand ready, hand in hand, to work as your partners.
India and the UK are not just as strong, but indeed are an unbeatable combination.
Time and time again, we’ve proved our ability to innovate, develop, make and grow together.
And it’s my – and my Government’s – ambition to see our partnership become stronger and more successful than ever before.
So, I hope my visit here today will play its small part in achieving just that…
Helping us to become more secure and more prosperous…
Enabling us to realise our shared potential…
And allowing us to soar ever higher into the skies of our shared future.
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