Belfast to host 300 delegates in bid for slice of India's booming economy
A week after the G8 leaders met in Northern Ireland, another of the world's fastest growing economies is set to take centre stage at a conference in Belfast.
The Global India Meeting will see the country's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, and UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, bring together 300 delegates from India with Northern Ireland's business people.
It's designed to showcase how Northern Ireland can serve as European base for Indian businesses and how local companies can export their goods and services to India.
Coinciding with Global India Week, the conference, which is organised by Belfast City Council and Invest NI, has attracted some of the region's biggest companies including Moser Baer, Tata Communications, Mahindra Satyam and Luxor Group.
Impressing these companies and others will be high on the agenda for those charged with driving the Northern Ireland economy and who will be pointing to the success of incumbent inward investors Firstsource, L&T, HCL Technology, Techmahindra and Polaris Software which are producing everything from transport equipment to chemicals to call centre services.
They'll also be trying to snatch a larger slice of the £197bn a year of goods and services which India imports.
At present, Northern Ireland exports a total of £27.8m a year to India out of £8.5bn from the UK as a whole.
Its economy, although going through a volatile time of late which has led to a slide in the value of the Rupee to an all-time low against the dollar, still remains one of the fastest growing in the world with a growth rate of around 6% a year, well above the 1%-2% predicted for the UK.
Invest NI said the sectors with the most potential for Northern Ireland companies when it comes to exports to India are engineering (materials handling, airport equipment, automotive), ICT and software services, education, healthcare and professional services.
"The success of established links between India and Belfast is already evident," Mairtin O Muilleoir, Lord Mayor of Belfast, said. "As a city we're determined to build on this success to further cement our place as a location of choice for foreign direct investment."
The conference will take place in various venues across Belfast including the City Hall, the Europa Hotel, Titanic Belfast and Queen's University. It begins on Sunday night with a welcome reception followed by a full day of presentations on how India and Northern Ireland can work together.
On Tuesday morning the delegates will be given a tour of Belfast before attending a seminar in Queen's University on the value of the Knowledge Economy.
* Indian companies attending the Global India Meeting:
Moser Baer, Tata Communications, Mahindra Satyam, Max India Foundation, Mesco Steel, MitKat Services, Scomi International in Malaysia, Export-Import Bank of India, Jalan Group, Hero MotoCop, Kiran Energy, Bombay Stock Exchange, Premier`s Tea, Jai Corp, Luxor Group and ChrysCapital.
* Indian companies already operating in Northern Ireland: Firstsource, L&T, HCL Technology, Techmahindra and Polaris Software