New Delhi, 19th August 2020: The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) along with techUK today released a joint statement on the completion of the latest annual ‘Tech Alliance’ meeting, held in July 2020. The “Tech Alliance” was formed in April 2018, as part of the joint statement by the Prime Ministers of both nations. It aims to strengthen the technology partnership between the two countries and promote collaboration with a view to growing digital capabilities and skills, as well as provide a platform for knowledge sharing and innovation. The alliance is represented by NASSCOM on the Indian side and techUK on the UK side, alongside their respective members. It enjoys the strong and sustained support of both governments.
The annual meeting had high level participation from both industry and the two governments, including the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, H.E. Ms Gaitri Issar Kumar, the UK’s Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Alan Gemmell OBE, and the UK’s Deputy Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Rhiannon Harries, among others.
The latest Tech Alliance meeting was held virtually on 31st July at a critical time, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, when technology businesses have stepped up to support governmental efforts to protect their citizens from the spread of the disease and provide essential services for people to be able to work remotely. The forum focused on a variety of key issues and shared challenges ranging from the role of technology in the COVID-19 recovery plans, to the trading relationship, mobility and data flows.
Few areas for joint action and cooperation have been identified to enhance bilateral trade between the two nations as well as to provide ease of doing business.
- Key to an expansion of bilateral trade in the tech sector are cross-border data flows, with a strong data protection regime. We therefore encourage the Indian Government to enact the Personal Data Protection Bill and work with business community to ensure that the legislation enables protection of personal data, while also promoting innovation and digital trade. Furthermore, we believe the two countries should explore a UK-India Data Adequacy Agreement to facilitate the cross-border movement of personal data, which is essential for businesses of all sizes and sectors.
- Mobility of staff across borders is crucial for a functioning bilateral trade relationship. The new point-based system to be implemented from Jan 2021 is nationality agnostic, a decision welcome by the tech industry. We encourage the two governments to explore options to further streamline the integration of ICT tier 2 visas into the new skilled worker category, as defined by the UK government in its new immigration strategy.
- Harmonised standards between countries are proven to be important catalysts for economic growth, productivity and innovation across borders. Conversely, burdensome requirements for demonstrating conformity in foreign markets often discourage SMEs from expanding internationally due to high costs of compliance. We encourage both governments to explore opportunities for harmonising standards and enabling businesses to sell their products and services across markets without the need for multiple compliance mechanisms.
- Emerging technology is changing profoundly the ways our societies and economies operate. Thus, increased dialogue on issues such as artificial intelligence, for instance, will allow UK and Indian companies to take full advantage of the digital revolution and provide new and successful products and services.
- With technology sector expected to play a significant role in the economic recovery of both nations, we encourage the UK and Indian governments to establish a joint working group on technology sector as a whole. techUK and NASSCOM stand ready to support this process.
Commenting on the recent Tech Alliance meeting, Shivendra Singh, Vice President, Global Trade Development, NASSCOM, said,“India is the second largest source of FDI for the UK and with the technology sector playing an even more critical role in the COVID recovery phase, we need to work on promoting ease of doing business by reducing policy level bottlenecks to create a win-win scenario for both countries. I see the role of the Tech Alliance as a strong policy advisory body to both governments.”
Referring to the Tech Alliance meeting, Julian David, CEO, techUK, added,“The UK is the second fastest growing G20 investor in India while India is the second largest investor in the UK. As we reflect on the recent global developments and what comes next, technology sector will be at the heart of the future collaboration between the two nations. To capitalise on emerging opportunities and address existing challenges, we must work together to ensure that businesses are able to seamlessly collaborate and innovate across borders. It means ensuring that bilateral relationship encourages movement of data, talent and innovation while also reducing barriers for business growth. The UK-India Tech Alliance is an important forum that brings senior business and government stakeholders to address policy bottlenecks and collaboration on emerging solutions.”