Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman, City of London

In New Delhi, Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman at the City of London, is scheduled for talks with a mixture of government leaders and business chiefs covering topics such as infrastructure, fintech, sustainable and green finance


A new infrastructure commission that will leverage the City of London capital and expertise towards projects in India is on the agenda for discussions during a week-long three-city India visit of a City of London Corporation’s senior official from Saturday onwards.

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the financial hub of the UK capital, known as the Square Mile, and has had a representative office in Mumbai since 2007 to enable long-term relationship-building with financial sector stakeholders across India.

Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman at the corporation, will on Saturday begin his visit in Mumbai with the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative (CFLI) and then head to Ahmedabad for discussions around India-UK fintech partnerships at GIFT City.

In New Delhi, Hayward is scheduled for talks with a mixture of government leaders and business chiefs covering topics such as infrastructure, fintech, sustainable and green finance.

“We’re following up on the formation of a City-India Infrastructure Commission, which will leverage both City of London capital and expertise in structuring projects,” said Hayward in a pre-visit interview.

“I think we have a lot to offer in that area in financial terms and in project management terms for these major infrastructure projects that I know Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is very keen on developing in India,” he said, highlighting that the proposed commission came up during the course of the UK-India Infrastructure Summit as part of UK-India Week last week.

“The second theme will be around investment. India is a powerhouse of investment in technology and fintech and green transition. These are all big topics for us here in the City of London (Corporation),” he shared.

Hayward, who was last in India a year ago, expressed optimism around the progress of the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between both countries, which are set for an 11th round this month.

He pointed out that the UK is the sixth-largest investor in India and India is the second-largest investor in the UK, with trade in services constituting 40 per cent of the total value of bilateral UK-India exports and imports.

“Having an FTA provides a framework for the extensive work which already exists between our two services sectors. It’s important from our point of view that any FTA includes clear and binding provisions protecting UK investments in India and indeed vice versa,” said the policy chief.

“We are obviously keen to keep the momentum going on the FTA. Of course, I’m not on the negotiating team, it’s the governments that negotiate, but it does seem there’s been good progress. We need to keep the pressure on both sides to complete the FTA. Obviously, I want the FTA to contain provision for financial services,” he added.

Hayward, as the senior-most policy official with a five-year term in office, also flagged strong two-way flows of skilled professionals as another key area for discussions during his India visit.

“It’s still a challenge to ensure that there is a strong flow of talent between India and the United Kingdom, both ways because we both need expertise. We want the government in relation to business visas to make life as easy and simple as possible for people to come here on business visas to work on a short-term basis… tech talent that comes out of India is huge. So, I will be discussing skills, which are a really important part of the agenda,” he added.