The Great Debate UK
- Ash Verma is Chairman, Gateway Business Consultants Limited and Founder of Gateway Asia. The opinions expressed are his own. -
London has long had a reputation as a city where entrepreneurs from Asia have come to seek their fortune. From its early 19th century roots when Sake Dean Mahomed opened up Britain’s first Indian restaurant and introduced the city to shampoo, London’s Indian diaspora has now grown into one of the largest communities outside the country. The Chinese community in London, too, is Europe’s oldest and largest.
London’s entrepreneurs should therefore be among the best placed in the world to export back to massively expanding markets in India and China. However, despite these powerful diasporas, we are not as a city or country doing as well as we should as exporters to these countries.
UK exports to India did increase last year but that was only because the values of diamonds shot up as a result of the global economic downturn. Only around one percent of the UK’s total exports go to India despite the UK having a Diaspora of one million people. In its exports to China the UK is still a long way behind countries including Australia and Germany.
Nine out of ten businesses in Britain don’t export at all. And it is many of these companies that could find fertile markets if they looked east. While there is no shortage of initiatives branded as helping exporters, they do not always offer the business to business hands-on help that research shows that companies want before exporting to India and China.