A trade discussion between the UK and India has highlighted Indian entrepreneurs' and businessmen's difficulties in accessing UK visas.
The annual Foreign Office consultations between the two countries looked at a number of bilateral issues, including economic and trade issues. However, UK visas played a major role in the talks between Indian foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai and UK permanent under secretary Simon Fraser.
Not only were the problems Indian businessmen faced accessing UK work permits highlighted, but student visa access was also looked at due to recent changes made by the British government to the immigration system.
Both the Indian and British representatives acknowledged the importance of trade ties between the two countries, particularly in the current difficult global economy. Official figures show that bilateral trade in 2011-12 rose to over $16 billion, up from around $12.5 billion in the previous financial year.
India remains the third largest investor in the UK, with over 7000 Indian companies operational in the country, while the UK is the fourth largest investor in India. A source told the Indian Economic Times: "Issues relating to investment climate were discussed. India would like to see greater investments flow from the UK. Visa difficulties for Indian entrepreneurs and businessmen was also student visas was discussed."