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David Cameron in China: Why Asia is key to UK prosperity

Posted on Nov 09 2010
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So it's no coincidence that as they head for the G20 summit of world leaders in Korea, Prime Minister David Cameron and United States President Barack Obama have chosen to stop off in China and India respectively.Put simply, to grow our economy we must find markets outside Europe.
We in the UK - just like the Americans and the rest of Europe - are suffering because of the financial crisis, so it makes sense to look to places further afield.
China and India represent great opportunities for the UK, as well as rival economies like the US.
And it's not just about exporting our goods to the Asian giants - we also want investment from them. Companies like India's Corus Steel and Tata Motors can provide jobs in Britain.
But it's not as simple as welcoming Chinese and Indian businesses into Britain with open arms - they have lots of other suitors around the globe, so we need to offer things they need which we are especially good at. They may want to build up their manufacturing industry and require specialist machinery which countries like Germany, for example, are ahead of us in providing - but there are other fields where we are the experts.
One area in which we have a solid reputation is education - to many an "English education" is still the gold standard. China and India are desperate for good education, and David Cameron has started talking about how we can offer training.
Less than three months after he became Prime Minister, Cameron went to India leading what Downing Street described as the largest UK trade delegation in living memory. At the time in an article in The Hindu newspaper Mr Cameron wrote: "Your country has the whole world beating a path to its door. But I believe Britain should be India's partner in the years ahead."
India has a very young population and the nation's challenge is to educate those youngsters sufficiently to maximise their earning power. In an ideal world British universities would set up in India with a branch in Mumbai in the same way Nottingham University has a branch in China. The chief advantage we have over other countries is that English is the language of international business.
Education is fuelling the rise of the middle classes in these countries and we need only look at the success of Burberry in Asia and the presence of two Marks and Spencer branches in Delhi, India, to see the opportunity for British brands there.
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