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British Deputy PM Nick Clegg to visit India from August 25-27

A month after former British foreign secretary William Hague and their Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited India to build bridges with the new BJP-led government, their Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is coming here to strengthen bilateral trade, investment and defence ties.

Clegg will be visiting India from August 25 – 27. He will be visiting New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

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

However, during this visit, it is expected that UK will strongly raise the issue of British telecom giant Vodafone’s Rs.11,217 crore tax dispute when it acquired Hutchison Whampoa’s Indian unit. This has become a significant irritant in the bilateral business ties.

The British government had expected that the issue might see some resolution under the new government. However, during budget Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made no indication that all previous cases of restrospective tax amendments will be done away with even as he hinted that no new cases will be taken up.

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

Besides, another significant investment proposal by a British company which is pending is that of Tesco, a multidrand retail giant.

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

Both sides are also expected to discuss a possible civil nuclear cooperation deal based on the Joint Declaration that was signed in 2010.

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