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Auto component exports to UK brighten
News from America suggests a growing divide between the powerful business lobby, keen to make use of India’s growing markets and the tired nationalist rhetoric of President Trump and his administration.

The visa restrictions on Indians remain: last month, the Indian Under 17 football team was unable to make their trip as a result of this. On the positive side, India has joined the ranks of Global Entry, a program me allowing pre-approved travellers to America to expedite their entry at key airports. 

Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s decision to unveil legislation supposed to lower legal immigration by half represents a misguided attempt to blame America’s economic woes on foreigners.


US investments ramping up...

Far more positive for Indians is the investment from American companies, which looks to be ramping up. Most notably is Apple’s decision to increase its manufacturing efforts in Bengaluru. The apparent move away from Apple’s traditional manufacturing grounds of China suggests that Narendra Modi’s trip to the US was productive. 

Another major American company looking to make further inroads into India is Amazon, whose practically unlimited power has been known to shake markets, looks to be muscling in on the expanding e-commerce sector. Local competitor Flipkart remains high (with major funding coming from Japanese Softbank), but its rival Snapdeal seems on the verge of significant job cuts.

The new era of standardisation, while not completely effectual in rubbing out confusion, is certainly a significant step in the right direction. John Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco and chair of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), praised the GST personally. While it is too early to say whether this portends a new era of US-Indian trade, it is certainly a brighter outlook than the rather isolationist stance adopted by the US government. 

The rise of the far right in America is also a phenomenon. The open march of neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and Klansmen ended with an act of domestic terrorism, killing one and injuring dozens.

The political climate in America - in part the result of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric but also a result of wider political machinations - is highly febrile. How this will affect NRIs is uncertain, but Trump’s hesitation to denounce white supremacy means that further attacks and deaths are likely.


Turmoil over Brexit continues...

The turmoil over Brexit continues to unfold, as the ruling Tory party seems unable to keep its story straight. While the opposition Labour party might not have secured a victory in the general election, the government’s apparent division over the terms of Brexit continues to weaken the UK’s diplomatic position. Much as in America, the government’s stance on immigration relies upon a fear of foreigners ‘stealing’ British workers’ jobs. Amongst the Home Office’s favourite targets were international students, with claims that around 100,000 overstayed illegally in Britain each year. However, the statistical watchdog, the UK Statistical Agency, has called for that number to be revised down, with a report estimating just 1500 of over 400,000 students overstayed their visa. In spite of calls from senior Conservative ministers to change her stance on this, Theresa May has doggedly persisted in this myopic viewpoint. After her disastrous showing in the general election, however, her replacement is a matter of time: the next prime minister may well understand the benefits of easing restrictions on international students and visas for foreign workers.


Scope for export of auto components to UK

Another parallel with the US is the business lobby’s excitement about India as a market for export. Cars and Scotch are two areas, which look set to grow. A report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) earlier in the year noted a crucial two-way trade - as UK car manufacturing increased, demand for British cars in India rose by 15.8 per cent. India may well play a larger role in the British automotive industry post-Brexit since, at present, a large number of car parts come from the EU. In the wake of leaving the group, there is perhaps some scope for India to take up some of the slack in supplying these parts to Britain. 

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