By Prasun Sonwalkar
London : The west Belfast-based Delta Print and Packaging company has confirmed a joint venture in India with its Chinese and Indian partners, notching yet another milestone for growing trade ties between Northern Ireland and India. The joint venture will build three factories in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
Northern Ireland's engagement with India in trade and education has been growing in recent years. The ties have been facilitated by India's Honorary Consul in Belfast, Lord Diljit Rana, a prominent industrialist in the region.
The announcement of the latest tie-up with Delta Print and Packaging was made this week during a visit to the Kennedy Way plant by Asoke Mukerji, deputy High Commissioner of India to Britain. Lord Rana accompanied him.
The joint venture, called the Inpac Delta Project Plan, is between Delta in Belfast, the Inpac Group in the north China province of Quin'an, and the Claridge Moulded Fibers in Mumbai.
Delta chairman Terry Cross said: "Because we work with global companies it is important that we gear ourselves up to act globally, forming working partnerships with international companies wherever our markets are.
"This is the only way that a Northern Ireland company seeking a global reach can secure its long term future."
Delta has been in the folded packaging business for 25 years and is the preferred supplier to blue chip clients such as McDonald's, KFC, Proctor and Gamble, and Norbrook.
The most significant Indian presence in Northern Ireland so far is that of HCL Technologies, which has a BPO in Belfast with employee strength of 1000. The company, headed by Shiv Nadar, dared to invest in Northern Ireland, when even British companies were wary of going into the troubled province.
Firstsource, another Indian call centre major, recently opened a second office in Londonderry, creating over 500 jobs.
Firstsource has a base in Belfast and its second office in Londonderry was inaugurated by the secretary for Northern Ireland Peter Hain in December 2006 amidst considerable local bonhomie over the creation of new jobs.
Facilitated by the government organisation Invest Northern Ireland, the region has forged links with Indian companies, universities and research centres, besides attracting a growing number of Indian tourists.