Asserting that the Indo-Pacific is going to be a ”great growth area of the world”, the new British High Commissioner here said on Friday the UK is going to work closely with all Quad constituents — India, Japan, the US and Australia — in the region.
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis, however, said it was not quite clear how institutionally the close cooperation with the Quad countries would work out but one thing is for sure that the United Kingdom would work with all those four countries in this part of the world.
At an interaction with journalists here, he also said India for next 75 years is at the ”centre of a lot of what happens in the world and we have to partner with that”.
Asked about the Quad grouping and whether the UK would be interested in joining it if it decides to expand membership, Ellis said it was up to the grouping how it wants to do things.
”What is clear is I would be expecting us to be working closely with India, Japan, US and Australia in this region. How you go about it is a good question, on what issues you should do it… not quite clear how institutionally it will work but one thing is for sure, will work with all those four countries in this part of the world,” he asserted.
Ellis said the integrated review which deals with the UK’s strategic perspective going forward, which he has worked on, will clearly indicate a tilt towards the Indo-Pacific.
He added that the Indo-Pacific is going to be ”great growth area of the world”.
With the UK exiting the European Union and having an independent trade policy, the two countries could look at negotiating their own pact, he said.
”India has not been enthusiastic about trade deals but we see a definite shift and a desire for bilateral trade deals including with us,” Ellis said.
”I think both sides will want to see from the other some indication of concrete steps towards that deal. That is why… there has been talk about an early harvest to see if we can do any initial moves which can show the seriousness on both sides,” he said.
The UK and India have complementary economies and don’t pose direct threats to each other, Ellis said ”We are having a G7 Summit (in June). We are inviting three other leaders, Prime Minister Modi is one of them. The G7 has a lot of different strands… These strands work underneath that. So how exactly who will get invited to what will depend on the work strand,” he said when asked if India was invited to G7 or also to the D-10, or group of 10 democracies as well.
About talks between the Indian government and Cairn Energy chief executive officer Simon Thomson, he said, ”We encourage both parties to reach a swift settlement.” An arbitration panel had asked India to return USD 1.4 billion to UK’s Cairn Energy Plc in a case.
”One thing that strikes me, coming here, is that India has got huge ambitions about infrastructure for example and the transformation which needs to take place in the country that requires capital — both domestic and foreign.