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Building business bridges

PERTH technology companies switched their gaze from the US and UK to the subcontinent this week with the arrival of a 21 member delegation from India.

The visit was arranged by the WA Department of Trade and Industry and the Australia-India Chamber of Commerce to encourage Perth IT companies to form strategic alliances with Indian technology firms.

It is the first time an IT delegation has visited Australia.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the visit comes at a time when the slow down in the US economy means India can see benefits in re-focusing its attention to the Australian market.

Department of Trade and Industry project leader Bruce Simpson said Australia and India could not be compared in terms of technological progress because the two countries targeted different areas.

“Australia and other parts of the world are better and more cost effective than India in developing very innovative or complex solutions,” Mr Simpson said.

“But the Indian industry is currently a world leader in the area of developing solutions for large, simple tasks because of their wage rates and ability to put lots of people into a project team to achieve something. They can actually produce fairly routine software packages at exceptionally competitive prices.”

He said that, in focusing on the European and US markets, Australia had overlooked the benefits of forming alliances with India.

“India is a bit of a sleeping giant I think. Our companies have really gone elsewhere and done other things because we tend to focus on the more sophisticated and advanced markets, rather than in India,” Mr Simpson said.

“And there has also been a perception among Australian companies that they can’t compete against Indian wage rates.”

Australia-India Chamber of Commerce vice-president Noel Daniel said it was important to realise Indian IT workers were not exploited or underpaid. It was a common misconception that Indian companies could produce software cheaper than Western companies because they used sweatshop labour.

“According to the Indian standard of living, IT workers are paid quite well,” he said.

“Of course the Indian workers are paid a lower rate compared to Australian salaries, but that’s because the standard of living is lower in India.”

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