Fourteen local companies will be exploring opportunities for building business in India’s fast growing marketplace on an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission, which runs from 9-17 November.

The delegation, which is led by Dr Diljit Rana, a leading figure in the Indian community in Northern Ireland, includes a strong IT presence, with five IT businesses including two contact centre operators, Answercall and HCL Technologies, making the trip.

The delegates also include companies specialising in biotechnology, civil engineering, road construction equipment and consumer goods.

Dr Rana, Managing Director of Andras Properties, was born at Sanghoul in the Punjab and has maintained close links with the region since moving to Northern Ireland in 1966.

Commenting on the mission, Dr Rana said: “I believe the business opportunities in India for Northern Ireland companies are substantial, particularly in the areas of infrastructural projects, information technology and consumer goods. India is a rapidly developing marketplace with particularly strong links with the United Kingdom, In 2000, for example, UK/India bilateral trade was worth over $8 billion.

“Investment programmes by the Indian authorities on the modernisation of the motorway network and on airports and harbours provide significant scope for companies offering a broad range of products and services,” he added.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Director of Trade Development Services, said: “The companies taking part in this mission represent a range of sectors from software to consumer goods and all are optimistic about the opportunities that India offers.

“India’s emergence as a major player in the global software industry provides significant scope to our IT companies to develop alliances and technology transfer arrangements that could benefit their business in the South Asia/Asia Pacific region. Northern Ireland companies can also offer Indian businesses a platform for expansion into Europe, which is soon to become the world’s biggest marketplace.

“Our companies will also benefit from the use of English as the language of business in India and the historic relationship between India and the UK,” he added.