Until a few years ago Indian firms had only a small footprint in Ireland, but that is begining to change as the EU nation has made a concerted effort to attract businesses — particularly from the IT, pharmaceutical and advanced manufacturing sectors.

IT majors such as TCS and Infosys have a presence in the country, while Tech Mahindra earlier this month opened a new centre of excellence.

BusinessLine spoke to Tanaz Buhariwalla, Director of India, IDA Ireland (the country’s inward investment promotion agency), about the opportunities, particularly in the wake of the UK’s move to leave the EU.

How is Indian investment changing in Ireland?

We have seen real growth in the last four to five years: there are now around 40 Indian companies ranging from the IT services sector — we have the top six, who started with customer service centres and are now moving up the value chain — to pharmaceutical companies, medical devices firms and advanced manufacturing. Now we are even seeing younger technology companies showing interest.

What is the impact of Brexit on Ireland?

Brexit was not what Ireland had hoped for but now that it has happened we are in a favourable position. The IDA has of course developed Brexit strategies. It has certainly opened up opportunities, but when it comes to India that would have been so in any case: Indian firms have always targeted the EU as a market, therefore we are now just adding an extra layer.

Has there been a greater expression of interest since Brexit?

We are definitely seeing Indian companies — from medium to large — discussing Brexit strategies and the IDA has been talking to many of them. Some companies are looking at consolidating their EU presence in Ireland. Many will have a plan internally but no one will take action until the terms of Brexit are clear.

How can Ireland benefit?

The advantages include English, and we are a common law jurisdiction — there is a great double taxation agreement with India. These things add to the attractiveness. We now have a fairly decent base of Indian companies which is an advantage: until recently we had other multinational companies but Indian companies lacked the comfort that the others had — now we are able to offer the full package. We initially focused on the IT services sector but we’ve increasingly been focusing on medical technology, pharmaceutical and engineering.

Our research showed that Indian companies were looking for a base in Europe, but were often choosing Eastern Europe, because they sought EU certification at a lower cost. We have the advantage of being part of Western Europe without the higher cost of a Western European nation, which has been a big attraction. It adds to the Make in India idea: make in India, added value in Ireland.

How do you see investment playing out going forward?

We have set ourselves the target of doubling the number of investments from India to 75 in the next five years, and doubling the job count to 10,000. We are on the track to meet this: this year looks very good. This is pre-Brexit — Brexit is not driving the investment we have seen or that is on the cards. There is much more to come once Brexit is announced.