Northern Ireland keen to boost business ties with India

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (UNI) Northern Ireland's Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Nigel Woods, will arrive here tomorrow on a four-day visit to strengthen bilateral ties in investment, trade and tourism sectors.

On his first visit to India, the Minister will have talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and deliver a lecture at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on 'Building a New Future for Northern Ireland'.

Mr Woods described India as among the most dynamic and fastest growing global economies, particularly in innovative technologies.

''It is sustaining annual growth rates of around 9 per cent and has emerged as a global leader in industries from software to automotive engineering and life sciences,'' the British High Commission here said quoting Mr Woods.

India is now an important source of both inward investment and trade revenue for Northern Ireland. Over 3,000 people are now employed by major Indian companies such as HCL, Firstsource, Polaris Software Lab, Tech Mahindra and Pix Transmission.

''The presence of these companies reinforces the fact that India is a very significant source of inward investment for Northern Ireland,'' Mr Woods said.

Stressing the importance of existing trade links with India, the Minister said India's importance to the Northern Ireland economy is much greater than its contribution through inward investment.

Several Northern Ireland companies, including FG Wilson, Mivan, Randox Laboratories, Relay Business Software, Singularity, Delta Print and Packaging, Denman International and CDE Ireland now have substantial operations in India.

''The visit will give me an opportunity to brief political and business leaders about the Executive's plans to drive economic growth in Northern Ireland and outline our advantages as an ideal springboard for Indian companies seeking growth in both Europe and the US,'' he added.

The Minister said he would urge Indian business leaders, who are seeking to exploit opportunities in the huge European marketplace, to look to Northern Ireland for a skilled and highly educated workforce, excellent universities and ambitious companies with a commitment to international business and innovative products and services.

They will also find a small but totally integrated and widely respected Indian community in Northern Ireland that's been engaged in business here for over 70 years.

''A key objective will be to nurture existing business and educational links to develop a partnership with India that will bring greater benefits to both countries,'' the Minister said.

During his visit, the Minister will also see the work of Tourism Ireland and meet a group of Indian tour operators to discuss how best to promote Northern Ireland as a tourist destination.

UNI RB VD ND1655

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