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Cobra founder Lord Bilimoria: "Our focus cannot be on China alone"

3 min read

21 March 2015

Former editor

Indian-born entrepreneur Lord Bilimoria has supported the government's efforts to provide more support for UK businesses looking to export with China, but believes India is a better bet.

The businessman, who set up Cobra Beer in 1989, has long been a vocal supporter of companies looking to engage in overseas trade and laid out his recommendations to the chancellor and government.

As part of George Osborne’s last budget speech before the 7 May general election, the chancellor revealed that the Treasury would be doubling the amount of financial support it provides to UKTI and British exporters to China.

Commenting on that move, Bilimoria said: “While it should be celebrated that he is increasing the funding of UKTI, our focus cannot be on China alone. The fastest-growing economy in the world today is that of India – a country that the economically illiterate immigration rhetoric of the home secretary has only served to alienate.

“Our universities are one of the most powerful tools at Britain’s disposal for building generation-long relationships with economies around the world. Removing overseas students from our immigration figures is vital if we wish to halt the decline in the number of India’s brightest and best choosing to come to our shores and it is a measure this government has failed to take.”

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Bilimoria also expressed his approval of the tax simplification plans outlined in the Budget 2015 speech. Rather than having to file before the traditional January deadline, a new online system will come into operation for some small businesses in 2016, individuals in 2017 and then all applicable businesses in 2020. It is hoped allowing small businesses to conduct tax affairs in this way will give them better control over when and how tax is paid.

On the news, Bilimoria said: “One of the most important challenges facing the UK economy is the absurd complexity of our tax code. In less than 20 years it has more than doubled in length and now runs to more than 11,500 pages – making it the longest in the world.

“Businesses and sole traders across the country will welcome the abolition of the self-assessment tax returns but in the coming years we need to see a far more radical programme of simplification.”