`Make Wales gateway for India's European operations'

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, November 26 | Updated: Nov 27 2007, 04:15am hrs
While India's negotiation for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union is in the process, Wales has begun marketing saying that it is the gateway to the continent. The Welsh people, known in the history for asserting their identity, are not prepared to miss this opportunity.

The Welsh deputy first minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is also the minister for economy and transport, is in India with a 20-member trade delegation. "This is the first ministerial trade delegation to India," he said.

In an interaction with the industry organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Monday in Delhi, Jones said : "Wales is the place to base your UK and European operations. Like India, we are a dynamic country ready to accelerate business growth."

He pleaded that Wales was the cost effective business base in an English-speaking country. One can get an office accommodation in Cardiff at rates 25% lower than that in London. The region has presence of sectors like ICT, automotive, business services, creative services and bio-pharma, while London being only two hours drive, he said.

"Wales is well connected by rail, road and air links to major UK and European cities," he said and pleaded that the region was congenial for business with low interest rates and inflation rate.

Jones said that a number of Indian companies, including the Tata group have begun investing in Wales

"We are not only looking for investments, but also for opportunities in trade with India in a number of products," said the director of International Business Wales, Ian Williams. He said that the delegation would meet the Indian commerce minister, Kamal Nath and discuss cooperation in areas like entertainment industry, biotechnology, small and medium enterprises, coal gasification and liquification, auto components, clean technologies, life sciences and knowledge driven technologies.