The article’s main image is of a happy person celebrating the Indian festival of Holi with coloured powders.

The article’s main image is of a happy person celebrating the Indian festival of Holi with coloured powders.

Wales-India relations

Published 30/04/2024   |   Reading Time minutes

The Welsh Government has focused on a different international partner each year since 2021 as part of its international relations strategy. So far, it’s been Germany (2021), Canada (2022) and France (2023). The aim is to celebrate and enhance relations between Wales and these countries through a planned programme of activities and events.

2024 is the year of Wales in India.

The year was launched on St David’s Day by the former First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, in London and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan MS, in Mumbai.

The announcement came shortly before the new First Minister, Vaughan Gething MS, took office. In his new cabinet, the First Minister’s portfolio retains responsibility for international relations while international trade remains with the economy portfolio.

Following a request from, the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations (“the Committee”), the former First Minister outlined the plans for Wales in India, saying India’s “an important trade and cultural partner”.

This article explains the Welsh Government’s plans for Wales in India 2024. It takes a look at existing commitments, the latest trade statistics and how the year will be resourced.  

Overseas offices

The Welsh Government has three offices in India, in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The Welsh Government publishes annual reports on the activities of its overseas offices. There’ve been two reports, for 2021-22 and 2022-23. In both, previous activities in India focus on sports visits, healthcare, education such as Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between academic institutions and medical exchange programmes between Cardiff, Swansea and Mumbai universities, and promoting Wales as a destination for trade and investment.

The former First Minister explained that this year’s activities centre around these offices, and other places in India and in Wales. Examples include Indian literature at Hay Festival, Mumbai Pride celebrations, Indo-Welsh music at the Eisteddfod and an NHS visit to Kerala.

New agreement to recruit health workers

In March 2024, the Welsh Government announced it had agreed a new healthcare recruitment agreement with the government of the Indian state of Kerala.

It says the agreement will “bring qualified healthcare professionals from India to work in NHS Wales”. 250 healthcare professionals will come to Wales from Kerala in the next year.

NHS Wales’s international recruitment drive recruited over 400 healthcare professionals from overseas to work in Wales last year. More are expected to be recruited this year, including via a £5 million ‘ethical international recruitment’ programme.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services said that:

International recruitment, alongside our investment and commitment to home grown healthcare staff, is one of the ways we can fill the workforce gaps and rely less on agency staff.

Existing commitments

Cooperation with India also features throughout the Welsh Government’s International Strategy (2020-2025) in areas like trade, youth mobility, education and research. Accompanying the International Strategy are five action plans which include specific actions, such as:

  1. Collaboration on joint educational events and initiatives with Global Wales (Public diplomacy and soft power action plan); and
  2. Creating business diaspora networks in priority trading markets, including India, by September 2021 (Diaspora engagement action plan

In 2017, India’s first ever Honorary Consul in Wales, Raj Kumar Aggarwal OBE DL, was appointed by the High Commissioner for India.

Wales-India trade

The former First Minister explained a key objective for the year is “securing high quality trade, investment and employment opportunities for Wales”. India is identified as a priority target market in the International Strategy’s Export Action Plan.

In a budget year where it has reduced the number of its trade missions from 19 to 16 or 17, the Welsh Government has prioritised a trade mission to Mumbai and Bangalore for May.

In 2023, the value of goods traded between Wales and India was £530.6m. This was a reduction of 31.4% compared with 2022.

Exports to India account for 1.0% of goods exported from Wales, valued at £187.4m. Amongst Wales’ trading partners, India ranks 18th for goods exports.

Goods imported from India to Wales account for 1.6% of imports, valued at £343.2m – placing India 17th for imports amongst trading partners.

Costs and resources

The former First Minister acknowledged that, while the Welsh Government’s overall budget for trade and investment is reduced for 2024-25, the budget for Wales and India stayed the same because it was already factored into original spending plans.

He explained that the overall budget allocation for Wales in India 2024 is £246,830.

This comprises £224,500 from the International Relations budget (£74,500 from 2023-24 and £150,000 from 2024-25) and £22,330 from the Trade and Invest budget for the trade mission to India described above.

The former First Minister also confirms that a dedicated Wales-based official will support teams in India and Wales on a fixed-term basis.

The Committee has raised concerns about a lack of clarity and information explaining the international relations budget, including on outcomes, impact and value for money. Its latest report, and the Welsh Government’s response, are available to read.

Other developments

Wales in India 2024 comes along as a UK-India trade deal remains elusive. Reports suggest that some remaining sticking points include visas, social security, cars, market access and India’s desire to be excluded from a UK carbon border tax, planned for 2027.

The four governments discussed the negotiations at a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Group for Trade on 16 April. Minutes of the Welsh Government’s trade advisory group also show regular discussions on the negotiations, and the former First Minister explains that the Welsh Government will help businesses to understand what a deal means for them, should one materialise.

At the same time, India’s general election is underway, with results expected on 4 June. The election will not change the government of Kerala, with whom the Welsh Government has the healthcare MoU discussed above. Like the Senedd, Kerala’s next legislative assembly elections are scheduled for May 2026.

Article by Sara Moran, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament