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India preferred global hub for BPO: UK

H S Rao in London | July 01, 2003 11:50 IST

India has become the preferred global hub for software development and business process outsourcing and the United Kingdom has benefited substantially from tie-ups with the Indian IT enterprises, Mike O'Brien, British Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has said.

"The UK companies realise the benefits of outsourcing from India, which has become the preferred global hub for software development and business process outsourcing," O'Brien said in his key note address at a one-day joint symposium on "International Business Perspectives of India: 2003 and Beyond."

O'Brien said the tie-ups between the UK and the Indian IT enterprises lend the former substantial benefits "Not only in terms of lower costs, but also in the quality and speed of marketing, as well as helping to build new businesses."

The Commonwealth Business Council, the London Stock Exchange and the Confederation of Indian Industry organised the symposium attended by the leading industrialists from India and the UK on Monday.

Prominent speakers at the symposium included Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Auto; Anand Mahindra, president, CII; N K Singh, member, Planning Commission; N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman, Infosys; Udayan Bose, Chairman, Lazard India; and Richard Heald, joint CEO, ABN AMRO Rothschild.

O'Brien said there have been skill shortages in the United Kingdom and Europe in the information technology sector and many have been filled by the highly educated Indian professionals. 

"It is in both our interests that they should be able to obtain work permits here," he said, adding that the latest Home Office figures indicated that, with more than 22,000 work permits issued to people of Indian nationalities in 2001-2002 - 60 per cent of them to the IT professionals - India topped the list of countries from where skilled manpower came into the UK.

And in the World Trade Organisation context, he said India has strong interests in obtaining secure long-term access for such professionals through the general agreement on trade in services 'Mode 4' on the temporary movement of persons.

Stating that the European Community's recent GATS (general agreement on trade in services) offer was a good one for countries like India, O'Brien said: "It covers intra-corporate transferees, business visitors and contractual service suppliers in no fewer than 22 service sectors." 

It would allow those on specific contracts to stay for up to a year, while in eight sectors there was an offer of greater access for the self-employed independent professionals. 

"We look forward to seeing the Indian offer soon," he said.

Recalling British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent statement that the world trade was the biggest issue faced by the two countries in the next six months, O'Brien said: "We have a mutual interest in ensuring that the current trade round, the Doha development agenda, opened new markets and reduced barriers in other parts of the world to exports from both our countries - and also in services."

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