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Europe rolls out red carpet for Indian IT firms

European trade missions want Indian firms to open offices in their countries to arrest flight of jobs.

business Updated: Nov 02, 2003 13:08 IST

Hit by a wave of IT outsourcing, European and Asian trade missions vied with one another at a technology fair in Bangalore on Sunday to lure Indian firms to open offices in their countries to arrest the flight of jobs.

The push to lure Indian firms overseas is aimed at bridging a shortage of skilled software professionals in many other countries, the chief of India's top technology lobby said.

"Many of the European nations face shortage of skills in the IT area and they see this as an organised way to get in expertise as well as investment," said Kiran Karnik, head of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom).

"It is a better way to create local employment. Getting companies from India will help," he said.

During the tech fair, known as BangaloreIT.com, Hong Kong wooed Indian firms by pitching its proximity to Chinese markets and dangling a zero-tariff pact with Beijing which comes into force next year.

Meanwhile, Germany and Britain showcased their economic strengths and described themselves as a "gateway to Europe".

Both countries have sent large delegations to participate in the fair hosted in India's technology capital of Bangalore, home to more than 1,000 foreign IT companies including Cisco, Dell, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle.

"Certainly, high qualification and quality young people, engineers and scientists are sought after not only in Germany but all over the globe in high technology development," said German Consul General Heinz Kopp.

India has the largest pool of English-speaking trained labour outside the United States. It churns out more than two million graduates every year and about 200,000 of them have engineering degrees.

India has also emerged as the "back office" to the world as global firms have shifted work to cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi to take advantage of lower wages to slash costs.

About 250 global corporations outsource their software from India, where engineers work for one-tenth the salary of their counterparts in the United States.

India is riding on the crescent of an outsourcing boom and Nasscom has forcast that IT-enabled services -- including business process outsourcing and call centres -- would be the biggest driver of growth in the industry.

Britain's Deputy High Commission (Deputy Ambassador) Stuart Innes said Indians already had a "major share" in his country's 20 billion-pound ($34 billion) a year computer software market.

"Equally important is to maintain the United Kingdom as a prime destination for Indians companies in Europe. Over 450 Indian companies, many of them software companies from Bangalore, are already in the United Kingdom," he said.

John Rutherford, associate director of a government-run investment promotion cell in Hong Kong, also made his pitch to Indian firms at BangaloreIT.com.

"Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to offer an advantage... with its multilingual skills and experience of doing business with China," said Rutherford.

First Published: Nov 02, 2003 12:47 IST