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INTERVIEW
 
‘We need it (AESA) too, for our Typhoons. That is the Best Guarantee India Can Have’
-UK minister for defence equipment support and technology, Peter Luff   

What is meant by the phrase ‘Responsible Export’ being mentioned in your media?


UK minister for defence equipment support and technology, Peter Luff 
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First, for the Indian audience, I want to emphasise that my government is committed to India on strategic issues, and this relationship hopefully will deepen with time. Obviously, I am promoting a number of products including the Eurofighter. But it is not only about products, we are interested in building a long term relationship. Regarding the phrase ‘Responsible Export’, it speaks for itself. Obviously, there are certain nations in the world where selling certain products can cause difficulties.

Indian context, in particular, these difficulties are considerably low. We have large share of world defence export market, something around 22 per cent. While we are enthusiastic about selling our defence equipments, we are engaging in a way that nothing untoward happens in a country where we export. It is on a case-by-case or country-by-country basis that we export and this is the way the responsible western democracies perceive the defence market worldwide.

Moving on to Indian context, what is you strategy or plan to promote UK SME’s in the Indian market?

We cannot give direction to the way business transpires. In business, you have free decisions. We have the organisation called UKTI which helps in exploiting business opportunities. There are large groups of British SME’s which are looking for opportunities,
specifically in the defence sector. Obviously, this might spill over to other sectors such as automobile, space etc. where cross relationship can happen. We would like to drive this message home. My colleague Gerald Howarth (minister for International Security Strategy) will be leading a delegation to India in early 2012 to participate in DefExpo 2012. Our ministers are talking about opportunities at every step. Our strategic objective is to increase participation of British SMEs across the manufacturing and commercial sector in India, specifically in defence. I expect that if Eurofighter wins the contract, then British SMEs can follow and in due course start establishing themselves in India. In fact, I just met a UKTI representative at a reception who sounded very earnest about his endeavour in India.

So you thing there is a great possibility of your SMEs interacting with Indian ones and taking the things forward?

Yes, you have actually given me an idea and if your analysis is correct, then we can give it a shape. We can fully engage them in the defence sector. I can take you to school of British SMEs which are constantly improving and bringing innovation to their products. They are working on reducing the cost of their products. We have been learning with enthusiasm for the value they are bringing to their products.

If the Eurofighter is selected in the MMRCA competition, what will that mean to you?

It means a huge lot to me. I believe that Indo-British relationship, in particular, is very important strategically, economically, culturally and in defence terms. For me personally, it will be a platform to deepen and strengthen this relationship in every possible way. This will include technology transfer, close relation with the British RAF, offset arrangements for British companies to come into Indian market and finally, to deepen the existing relationship. I am very passionate about this.
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