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  November 8th, 2016 | Written by

Brexit: The EU’s Loss May Be India’s Gain

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  • Greater collaboration could revolutionize global food production and manufacturing.
  • A new UK-India trade deal could counteract the impact of Brexit.
  • India is a leading global producer many commodities yet is not a top-10 exporter for most of them.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is in India today, the last of a three-day trip that marks her first overseas jaunt since assuming her present office.

The aim of the trip is to cement trade ties with the giant South Asian market as the United Kingdom plans to go it alone if and when the UK leaves the European Union. (A London court recently threw a monkey wrench in the government’s plans, ruling that Parliament’s approval of is necessary to go forward with Brexit.)

Manish Shukla, a lecturer in operations management at Durham University Business School, is optimistic about the visit and how greater collaboration particularly around agriculture could revolutionize global food production and manufacturing.

“Theresa May’s visit signals a new era in trade relations between two historically tied countries,” he said. “A key area where trade discussions can have an impact is agriculture. A new trade deal with India could make the UK a world-leading processed food hub and counteract the impact of Brexit on the UK’s relationship with European producers.”

India is the leading global producer of dairy, bananas, mangoes, pulses, pepper, ginger, jute, and chickpeas, among other commodities, Shukla, a supply-chain management expert, noted, and the second largest producer of rice, wheat, potatoes, onion, sugar cane, tea, and peanuts.

“Yet, it is not even a top-10 exporter for most of these products,” he said. “Recent research conducted by Durham University Business School among Indian onion and coffee producers highlighted the difficulties for many smaller companies to enter the international supply chain. They are hampered by factors such as lack of infrastructure, the technology to preserve crops or food for transit, and high levels of export bureaucracy. In contrast, the UK has cutting-edge technological capabilities to process and market foods with an international reputation and reach.”

One potential solution that Shukla is exploring is developing a physical internet for food produce to connect the Indian producers to UK processing companies to reach the global marketplace. “This may be a great way forward for the farmers, SMEs, and larger organizations in both the countries,” he said.