Indian defence purchase decision a blow to UK aid strategy?

I hope not…but there were a few interesting statements made yesterday over India’s decision, in a $10 bn deal, to prefer the French fighter jet Rafale over the Eurofighter, manufactured by BAE, in which the British group BAE has a stake. Excerpts below, from The Hindu –

Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday led an attack on India for selecting French firm Dassault Rafale for a mega deal to supply fighter jets ignoring British claims as MPs and the media accused New Delhi of “ingratitude,” arguing that Britain gave millions of pounds in aid to India…

…MPs and right-wing media questioned the wisdom of giving aid to India if it persisted in “snubbing” Britain. India’s decision was described as much a failure of British diplomacy as a personal setback to Mr. Cameron in his campaign to establish Britain as a “partner of choice for India.”

In the Commons, his senior Conservative Party colleague and a contender for the party leadership David Davis called for him to pull his full weight to get India to change its mind pointing out that “we give aid to India many times more than what France gives.”

Another Conservative MP Peter Bone said it was a “myth” that “doling out billions of pounds out to countries like this exerts any influence whatsoever on the decisions made by those governments when purchasing equipment.”

“We need to slash the international development money and invest the billions saved to help hard-pressed British families,” he said…

…The right-wing Daily Mail said the contract was lost despite the government claims that the U.K.’s £1billion aid package to India would help secure the order. It recalled that the Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell justified aid to India last year on grounds that it would facilitate selling Typhoon to India…

This outrage is particularly interesting in the light of this piece of news where UK’s Ministry of Defence wants to be an ‘intelligent customer’ which means among other things, that British manufacturers will need to compete to be supply equipment.

And as always, for the few that might still think otherwise, all aid and trade is political!

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