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British Deputy PM Clegg to visit India from Monday to Wednesday

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will visit India from Monday to Wednesday to strengthen trade, investment and defence ties.

Clegg will visit New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The UK deputy prime minister’s visit comes a month after former British foreign secretary William Hague and Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, had visited India to build bridges with the new government.

India and the UK have had a strategic partnership since 2004. This is marked by regular high-level exchanges and growing cooperation in diverse areas.

During Clegg’s visit, it is expected the UK will strongly raise the issue of British telecom giant Vodafone’s Rs 11,217-crore tax dispute when it acquired Hutchison Whampoa’s India unit. This has become a significant irritant in bilateral business ties. The UK government had expected the issue to see some resolution under the new government.

In the Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had hinted no such new cases would be taken up.

But there were no indications of amicably closing all previous cases of restrospective tax amendments.

As a result, Vodafone India had said it would continue the process of international arbitration, initiated under the India-Netherlands Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Another significant investment proposal by a British company that is pending is that of multibrand retail giant Tesco.

The new government had made it clear that it will not allow foreign direct investment in multibrand retail trading, but it has not clearly spelt out what its stance will be on the pending investment proposals.

Both sides are also expected to discuss a possible civil nuclear cooperation deal, based on the joint declaration signed in 2010.


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