India's Overseas Markets

United Kingdom

Population (2019): 66,834,405

GDP (2019): US$ 2.83 trillion

World Bank “Ease of Doing Business” Rank (2019): 8

Bilateral Trade with India (Apr-Feb, 2019-20): US$ 15.45 trillion

The UK has a population of 66.8 million and is the fifth largest economy in the world.

According to the World Bank, it is the easiest European country to do business with. As the top destination for foreign direct investment in Europe, the UK government welcomes thousands of overseas businesses every year.

Partners for Global Growth

More UK companies are eager to look outside the EU for overseas business and investment opportunities, due to the UK’s plan to leave the European Union in 2019.

Whether you are in fintech, medtech or digital technology, Indian businesses can tap UK companies’ strong engineering and creative capabilities to develop partnerships for international expansion.

Common Language and Systems

Singapore and the UK share a common working language, and similar legal, accounting, and political systems. This makes it easier for Singapore companies to do business in the UK. With a highly skilled and educated English-speaking workforce, you will not have problems understanding and dealing with your British counterparts when you set up your business in the UK.

Brexit: What It Means for You

The UK has voted to leave the EU and is scheduled to depart on 29 March 2019. Against a backdrop of rising protectionist sentiments, the UK maintains that it remains open for business.

As a company looking to venture overseas, do look beyond the headline uncertainties of Brexit and seize business opportunities in the UK. If your company is involved in consumer and retail, infrastructure and real estate, or technology and innovation, you can expect continued demand. Find out what are the specific industry opportunities in the UK.

Post-Brexit Strategy

That said, it pays to ready a contingency plan if you have EU workers in the UK. Monitor EU trade agreements closely to see how supply chains or sales of goods and services in the common market can affect you.

Property prices in the UK has fallen by 10-20% especially in prime business areas. This is an opportunity for Singapore businesses, which now have more leverage with landlords to secure prime locations.


The UK is Europe’s largest e-commerce market and the third largest in the world, after the United States and China.

E-commerce exports from the UK are growing, with Asian consumers forming a rising share of buyers. Singapore companies can work with UK partners in areas such as order fulfilment and digital marketing to service cross-border e-commerce between the UK and Asia. For example, a Singapore logistics company is working with the Royal Mail to manage the “first mile” of product returns from Asian e-commerce customers who buy from British companies.

Logistics is another area you can consider in light of the e-commerce boom. In particular, localised fulfilment centres will be needed for just-in-time fulfilment should there are significant customs delays, especially if Brexit results in slower movement of goods between the UK and the EU.

Digital Technology

Technology businesses are at the heart of the UK economy and are playing an important role in driving growth across the country, from financial services and high-value manufacturing to retail and agriculture. If your company has a distinct edge in digital capabilities and innovative technology, there are opportunities to venture to the UK.

The UK offers an outstanding environment for technology companies. It has:

A strong startup culture bolstered by some 30 technology clusters all over the UK.

Innovative business culture, ranked fifth in the world in the Global Innovation Index in 2016.

A highly-skilled technology workforce, with four of the world’s top 10 universities.

Specific areas to consider include artificial intelligence, cloud services, communications, cyber security, data centres, data management & analytics, electronic systems, semiconductor design & sensors.

Another area of opportunity is the UK government’s goal to narrow the digital skills gap within the local workforce through education and training. Your company can offer solutions to reduce digital exclusion and improve the UK workforce’s core digital skills.


In 2015, the UK’s fintech sector had a turnover of £6.6 billion (S$12 billion) in revenue and attracted £524 million (S$943 million) in investment. The sector attracts more fintech investment and talent than anywhere else in Europe.

Innovative solutions from India in the digital tech industry can get exposure to corporates (banks, consultancies, sector specialists) who are keen to adopt such solutions. The four strongest performing areas that offer you business opportunities are:

  1. Payments, which currently attract a wide range of innovators.
  2. Platforms, particularly peer-to-peer lending, trading, personal wealth management and aggregators.
  3. Software for accounting, asset management, capital markets, insurance, payments, and risk management.
  4. Data analytics such as capital markets, credit reference, and insurance.


The lifestyle-led sector in the UK is thriving, with beauty product stores, booksellers, ice cream parlours, and specialty coffee shops all opening a number of new premises across the country in 2017. Demand from consumers and landlords alike for a unique and diversified retail experience continues to rise. If you are a lifestyle brand owner, there is no better time than to leverage this opportunity for expansion into the UK.

London is also an ideal springboard for fashion brands to penetrate the global market. The city offers access and exposure to a global, cosmopolitan and trendsetting crowd. For example, Ashley Isham, one of Singapore’s most prominent figures in the fashion industry, has been based in London since 1996 and his collections are often showcased during the London Fashion Week.

• UK is among India’s major trading partners. UK ranks 14th in the list of India’s trading partner.
• Bilateral merchandise trade during 2019-20 stood at US$15.45 billion, marking a decrease of 8.42% as compared to 2018-19.

Minerals; precious and semi-precious stones; machinery; organic chemicals; vehicles; pharmaceutical products; electronic equipment; iron and steel; articles of apparel and clothing

Product Code Product Label India’s exports to United Kingdom in 2019 (Value in US$ million)
27 Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral 44,081.09
71 Natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad 36,650.34
84 Machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors, boilers; parts thereof 21,158.02
29 Organic chemicals 18,296.28
87 Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof 17,188.14
30 Pharmaceutical products 16,124.97
85 Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television 14,672.93
72 Iron and steel 9,665.32
62 Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted 8,599.20
61 Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted 7,908.87

Source: ITC trade map

India’s untapped export potential

According to ITC Trade Map, the products with greatest export potential from India to United Kingdom are Jewellery, diamonds and medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for retail sale.

Product code Description Untapped export potential
711319 Jewellery, of precious metal, nes US$ 381.7 million
710239 Diamonds, worked US$ 324.5 million
8703XX Motor vehicles for the transport of persons, nes US$ 219.6 million
841112 Turbojets of a thrust >25kN US$ 112.2 million
0306Xb Shrimps & prawns, frozen US$ 162.4 million
610910 T-shirts & vests of cotton, knit/crochet US$ 109.3  million
711311 Jewellery, of silver US$ 108.3  million
85XXXb  Telephone sets & other voice/image transmission apparatus US$ 136.9 million

Source: ITC Trade Map

Minerals, precious and semi-precious stones; electrical equipment; organic chemicals; plastics and articles; iron and steel; animal and vegetable fats and oils; optics and photographic; fertilisers

Product Code Product Label India’s imports from United Kingdom in 2019 (Value in US$ million)
27 Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral 1,53,515
71 Natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad 60,003
85 Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television 50,380
84 Machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors, boilers; parts thereof 44,059
29 Organic chemicals 20,542
39 Plastics and articles thereof 14,642
72 Iron and steel 11,574
15 Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleavage products; prepared edible fats; animal 9,606
90 Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical 9,493
31 Fertilisers 7,333

Source: ITC trade map

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