Originally created 01/16/04

Inspired by India, poor Asian nations eye Western outsourcing



HYDERABAD, India -- New options may be emerging in Asia for Western companies to outsource software and back-office work, with countries such as Bangladesh and Mongolia taking steps to produce skilled workers and improve facilities.

"We are small. But we have a young work force well skilled in information and communication technologies," Abdul Moyeen Khan, science and information technology minister for Bangladesh, said Tuesday at a meeting of Asian technology ministers in the south Indian tech center of Hyderabad.

He said Bangladesh already exports software to 23 countries, including the United States, and wants to emulate neighbor India, which is expected to generate $13 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ending in March 2004 from technology outsourcing.

Many companies in the United States and Europe farm out software writing, payroll accounting and customer service calls to firms in developing nations where wages are lower and English-speaking skilled workers are plentiful.

The tech research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that the offshore outsourcing trend will result in at least one in every 10 U.S. technology jobs moving overseas by the end of this year.

India gets a huge amount of that work but also has set up so-called centers of excellence in Mongolia, Mauritius and Nepal to help those countries develop software skills, understand international business practices and enhance education.

At the Hyderabad summit, Kamal Thapa, Nepal's minister for information technology and communication, said the Himalayan kingdom is laying fiber-optic cables along highways and liberalizing investment rules to attract foreign companies.

Mongolia's infrastructure minister, Byamba Jigjid, said a software park has been built in the capital, Ulan Bator, to house companies that provide services to Western firms.

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