31/03/2006

Local companies look to do business in india

Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has today announced that he is to lead a major business mission to India in April to attract investment and tourism to Northern Ireland.

Mr Hain also revealed that he hopes to increase trade and academic linkages with the world’s fastest growing free market economy.

Details of the trip were announced this morning at a briefing at Stormont buildings for the participating companies.

The keynote speaker was His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, the High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, who was making his first official visit to Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the briefing, Mr Hain said: “To achieve the economic transformation of Northern Ireland, it is essential to identify and capitalise the opportunities in the emerging economic superpowers such as China and India.

“We must make Northern Ireland into a place where Indian companies want to locate and expand, and with which they want to trade. We must get out there and tell our story in the Indian marketplace, which is what this visit is all about.”

Representatives from 16 local companies along with representatives from Queens University and the University of Ulster will be involved in the mission, which will be centred on New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Invest NI Chief Executive, Leslie Morrison and Lord Diljit Rana, Honorary Consul for India in Northern Ireland and President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will also accompany the mission.

Throughout the visit, the Secretary of State will meet with members of political parties, business' and academic institutions in each city to work on existing relationships with them.

New Delhi business, HCL Enterprises has already invested over £16 million in Northern Ireland, increasing employment in its contact centres in Belfast and Armagh, by five times their original size, creating over 2,000 jobs.

Mr Hain will also meet with representatives from local tour operators and Bollywood producers to discuss initiatives to attract more visitors from India to Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: “I am confident that a greater understanding of Northern Ireland’s benefits in terms of highly educated people, competitive operating costs, excellent telecommunications and location within Europe will lead to a significant increase in investment projects from India. Investors will also find a vibrant and long established Indian community that is now fully integrated in Northern Ireland society.”

After the meeting, the High Commissioner met representatives from companies taking part in the mission to discuss possible business ventures in India.

(EF/SP)

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