India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, in fact it is the second fastest growing of the developing economies after China.

With a population of over 1 billion and a rapidly developing infrastructure as well as a fast growing middle class, India represents a very interesting new growth market opportunity for British businesses in a number of sectors.

The freight forwarding industry has been gearing up to cater for this developing market and there are now many freight companies and shipping companies that are able to serve the needs of UK businesses looking to export to India, as well as provide expert advice about the practicalities of international freight to and from India.

As the country develops, there are opportunities for companies looking to export to India right across the board. However, perhaps the greatest opportunities are for companies that can help India build its infrastructure. So as well as machinery, there is an opportunity for companies that have products and services that could help Indian companies make their own products more sophisticated – for example, products related to product testing or design.

UK Trade and Investment, the UK government department that is responsible for helping UK businesses to build their export sales, has identified the following sectors as the ones with the most potential for import into India: Aerospace, Automotive, Food and Drink, Pharmaceutical, Construction, Creative, Education, Engineering,Environmental, Financial, IT and telecoms.

The wide span of these sectors, covering both very large and small items, perishables and highly delicate equipment, means that the challenges faced by the freight services provider in India are complex and varied. However, a freight company or shipping company will be well versed in the needs of these sectors and able to carry out efficient and effective freight transport.

The hefty investment programme currently under way in India to improve its transport infrastructure, IT infrastructure and telecoms, means that there are currently many opportunities for UK businesses able to provide the products, services and skills required to put in place the infrastructure the country will need to take its place as a key player in the world economy. Improvements and upgrades to the freight services industry are likely themselves to be part of the improvements to the infrastructure in India in due course.

At present, India is the 15th largest export market for the UK, but as the country continues to develop, it is likely that it will become still more significant to the UK.

Total imports into India are worth nearly 300 billion US dollars a year. Its largest source of imports is currently China, accounting for 10% of all imports to India. China is followed in importance by the United States, accounting for 8% of all imports to India. The next most important importer to India is Germany (at 4%) followed by Singapore. International freight transport links between these countries are thus particularly well developed.

Trade between the UK and India has increased rapidly in recent years and the UK is now India’s second largest trading partner overall, after the United States.Although at present more goods and services flow from India to the UK than vice versa, this balance is now beginning to be redressed. The freight transport sector is seizing the opportunity and helping British companies understand the potential of the Indian market as well as help make practical issues and export and import paperwork as straightforward as possible.

One thing that makes life easier for the importer to India and the freight forwarding company is that English is the universal language of commerce in India. Although Hindi is the official language in India, only 10% of people in India speak it and so the need for a common language has favoured English, to the advantage of the UK freight company and the UK importer.

Organisations such as the India UK Business Council are also highlighting the opportunities of trade with India to companies in Britain and they carried out a publicity drive to tie in with the recent Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Freight companies and freight forwarding agents are keenly aware of the impact that events like this can have, as such events put countries such as India in the spotlight and raise their global profile, sometimes causing companies to consider new business opportunities for the first time.

Given the increased promotion of the opportunities for business growth in India and the developing transport infrastructure, making freight transport easier, quicker and more cost effective, it is expected that India will soon move up the league table of export markets for the UK and move considerably higher than its current position at Number 15.

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