Why Has It Taken Wales So Long to Build Links to India, the Tiger Economy of Asia?
Byline: By Dylan Jones Evans
Today, Wales undertakes its first ever trade mission to India, with Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones taking a high-profile group of business people to Delhi and Mumbai to create partnerships with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
The question that many of us will be asking is why it has taken so long to do this? Does no-one in the Welsh civil service actually bother to read the Economist any more?
The growth of India is probably one of the most exciting prospects of all the new Asian tiger economies and its success has been staring us in the face for quite a while.
During the past three years, its growth in prosperity has averaged 8% and, based on purchasing power alone, it is now the fourth largest economy in the world.
By 2010, India will have a consumer population of 150 million people and, with its growing appetite for Western goods and services, could be a massive potential market for any business that has the entrepreneurial drive to establish itself in the country.
There is also the advantage of language as, unlike China, many of the professionals within India are fluent in English and this creates considerable opportunities for business service organisations.
For Welsh universities, there could be the chance to develop a range of new business education services.
However, it is the development of new high-technology industries that should be catching the eye of the Welsh politicians and business people on this trade mission.
The IT industry alone accounts for 5% of India's GDP, 20% of its exports and employs more than 1.3 million people.
In the period 2005-06, it grew by nearly 30%, driven mainly by software and services exports and looks set to grow further as the country produces around one million information and communication technology graduates every year.
Worryingly for the UK, only 1% of our exports actually go to India, with smaller European countries such as Sweden and Switzerland outperforming us in the market place.
Given the traditional historical links between India and Britain, it is scandalous that Wales has done so very little to take advantage of this growing opportunity, although other parts of the UK have certainly taken the building of links with India far more seriously. …