British minister supports outsourcing to India

Monday, 24 November 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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LONDON: British Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has supported companies that outsource work to India and rejected demands by unions that the government step in to stop jobs moving overseas.

Hewitt has rejected calls for the government to pass new laws or change rules to discriminate against British companies setting up call centres in India.

Speaking at the national conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Hewitt, who is an MP from Leicester, said: "It is much easier to see the short term benefits of protectionism than to see the long term costs to consumers and business competitiveness"

She said outsourcing was helping boost economic growth in India, which had half of the world's poor.

"We cannot preach liberalization to the rest of the world and practise protectionism at home", she said.

Her comments, however, were criticised by trade union Amicus, which has been in the forefront of protest against relocating British jobs overseas.

An Amicus spokesman said: "The government is missing the point. Outsourcing is not about developing the Indian economy; it is about companies pursuing short-term profit.

"Once India has been sucked dry, off-shoring companies will move on to China and Southeast Asia, leaving India and the U.K. in their wake".

At the conference, Hewitt congratulated the CBI and individual British companies for resisting the temptation for protectionism.

She added that she had first-hand experience of the short-term costs of free trade from the textiles industry in her Leicester constituency.

Source: IANS
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