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Picture 10 Alok Sharma, whose family originally hails from India, gained Reading West from Labour at the general election.

He gave his maiden speech last night and opted to focus on the challenges and opportunities for Britain presented by the emerging economies such as India and China.

“Over the past decade the relationship between emerging economies such as India and China on the one hand, and the industrialised nations in the west on the other, has developed from one of the emerging economies being junior partners to a relationship of equals, with real potential for the likes of China and India to emerge as first among economic equals.

“The emerging economies present challenges for us. We have seen some British jobs offshored to low-cost locations. With increasing globalisation and cost pressures on corporates, a certain level of offshoring is here to stay, whether we like it or not. But emerging economies also present a huge opportunity for British companies and jobs in this country. The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Jeremy Browne), talked about statistics. Let me give the House a few on India. We have heard about annual growth rates of 7 to 9%. There is a middle class of around 400 million people and growing. Well over 60% of the population is aged below 35. India is looking to make significant investments in its infrastructure, in pharmaceuticals and health care, IT, green technologies, and food and agriculture, to name just a few sectors ripe for investment and growth. We in Britain have leading companies with significant expertise and know-how in many of these and other sectors.

“In Reading, I have met home-grown technology companies that are exporting value-added products across the world. As a Government, we should be doing everything we can to help and encourage our companies to take advantage of the growth markets in the emerging economies. That will in turn help to create value-added and long-term jobs in the United Kingdom.

“I was very pleased that the Gracious Speech made mention of developing an enhanced partnership with India. Because of our shared history and the mutual good will and affection between Britain and India, we already have a special relationship on an emotional level. We now need to make sure that we translate that good will and understanding into a special relationship based on trade and commerce to our mutual benefit. If we can do that in a timely manner, it will be to the advantage of British companies and will help safeguard and create jobs in our country which will be vital as we aim to grow and expand the British economy.”

Jonathan Isaby

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