updated 1/30/2006 12:24:42 PM ET 2006-01-30T17:24:42

U.S. computer maker Dell said Monday that it planned to add 5,000 jobs in India over the next two years, bringing its work force in the country to 15,000.

Dell Inc. is also looking to set up a manufacturing center in India, a move that could help boost sale of Dell computers here, President and CEO Kevin Rollins told reporters after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Roundrock, Texas-based company will hire between 700 to 1,000 of workers for a new call center in Gurgaon, a satellite town of the capital, New Delhi, Rollins said. The new call center, the company's fourth in India, will open in April, he said.

The other new hires will staff call centers in the cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad in southern India and Mohali in the northern state of Punjab. Also this year, the company plans to double the staff at its product testing center in Bangalore, which currently employs 300 engineers, Rollins said.

During his previous visit to India in April last year, Rollins had said Dell would make India a hub for its software development and back-office work.

Currently, the company three call centers in India, a product testing center for corporate customers and a global software development center. Some 10,000 people are employed at these facilities.

Scores of Western companies have been cutting costs by shifting software development, engineering design and routine office functions to countries such as India, where English-speaking workers are plentiful and wages are low.

But Rollins said his company's expansion plans were not limited to tapping the talent, but also benefit from the growing demand for desktop computers and notebooks.

Dell accounts for less than 4 percent of the 4 million computers sold in India, whereas the company's share in the global market is about 18 percent, he said.

Taxes levied by the Indian government on computers and computer parts are a major factor affecting pricing of Dell products and their sluggish sales here.

A manufacturing facility could help the company boost its presence in India, where computer sales are expected to increase to 10 million annually over the next three to five years.

"We have come to the conclusion that time is ripe to consider a manufacturing facility in India," Rollins said. "We want to do it fast," he said, but gave no time frame or investment details.

He said the company was talking to local authorities in several Indian states to identify a site and a decision will be made soon.

Dell currently operates nine plants, six of them outside the United States.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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