A King’s Lynn-based industrial bearings manufacturer has been powered by new growth in India and China to offset a slowdown of orders in the UK and Europe.

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West-Norfolk firm clinches India gas plant deal

Filtration-specialist Porvair has sealed a deal with India’s largest private enterprise company to work on a gasification plant in Jamnagar.

The King’s Lynn-based firm will design and build char filtration systems for the site, which is owned by Reliance Industries and home to the biggest oil refining complex in the world.

The gasification plants will process petroleum coke and coal into synthesis gas using E-Gas technology licensed from Phillips 66. Ben Stocks, chief executive of Porvair, said: “We are delighted to have been selected for this high profile work in India that significantly strengthens our position in energy and industrial filtration markets.

“Elements of the engineering will be similar to the work we are currently doing for POSCO in South Korea, but the initial Jamnagar installation will be three times larger.

“The project is modular in design. Engineering work will start immediately with much of the work being exported from our plant at Segensworth, UK.

“The financial impact of the deal will be spread over several years.”

Cooper Roller Bearings has previously sealed contracts worth £500,000 and has eight tenders lodged with Indian firms as part of its export ties with the emerging economic power.

The firm, which employs 240 staff at its global plant on Wisbech Road, is expecting to see a slight rise in turnover to more than £30m this year, as it continues to export hardware to sugar plants, power stations and cement works within heavy industry.

It comes as the prime minister voiced his determination yesterday to make it easier for Indian businessmen and students to work, study and invest in the UK during his visit to Mumbai at the head of the largest trade mission to travel with him overseas.

However, David Cameron made clear that, in return, he wanted India to tear down outdated barriers to investment to help UK-based companies to establish a foothold in the fast-growing economy.

Ian Coafield, technical manager of Cooper Roller Bearings, hailed the companies trade deals with India, but told of his frustration at dealing with the country’s bureaucracy surrounding business.

He said: “India is quite difficult to deal with because it is a very bureaucratic process that tends to be very long-winded.

“If David Cameron is there to make trade easier for the UK, then I think it will benefit Cooper’s.

“At the moment, everything in India has to be in writing.

“You have to dot every i and cross every t. A lot of the time we end up writing four communications, when in the UK you would do it in one communication. But if you want to do business then you have to work within their rules.

“But as we see less and less heavy industry work in Europe, we identified India as a growth area, and the biggest industry over there at the moment is power stations – and they all need Cooper bearings.

He added: “We had to find customers within heavy industry and there is not much happening in the UK. We have seen for ourselves that it is in India and China where we do sell our product.”

Tracey Howard, international trade director of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, urged businesses to look to India for export opportunities.

She said: “Norfolk Chamber are fully aware of the huge potential of business opportunities in India, and have recently highlighted these through a business briefing.

“The strongest sectors in India match those that are also strong in Norfolk, so local firms should seriously look at India as a potential export market.

“We are always happy to give guidance on export markets and through our export seminars, such as the one we will hold on India later this year.”

Trade minister Lord Green said: “We are on track to double our trade with India by 2015. India has great potential to become one of the largest markets in the world.

“UK businesses are rightly recognising that they can reap the rewards of looking outside Europe for trading partners, selling their goods and services to high growth markets outside the EU.

“Government is clear that we must build deeper ties with India.

“This means we have to support and encourage a range of companies, both large and small, to try and do business there in the future.”

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