Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said that India was the world’s “fastest-growing major economy” and offers “more opportunity for Australian business for over next 20” years. “India is the world’s fastest-growing major economy and offers more opportunity for Australian business over the next 20 years than any other single market,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
Referring to a report titled “India Economic Strategy,” Morrison said, “It is a blueprint that transforms Australia’s economic engagement with India. This report provides a roadmap for our economic future with India.” The report, released in July 2018 by the Government of Australia, recommends practical measures to cement India as its top economic partner. The report recognizes India as one of its key international trading partners.
“Our work will focus on greater economic engagement, targeting 10 Indian states, and ten key sectors while providing practical support for Australian businesses entering or expanding operations in India,” Senator Simon Birmingham further noted.
“India and Australia are both committed to strengthening regional institutions and ensure markets remain open and facilitate the free flow of trade, capital, and ideas,” Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, was quoted saying. “India is set to become the world’s third largest economy by 2030 and reaching this goal will see India as a key driver of continued global economic growth,” Payne added.
In order to achieve a set target for next 20 years (2035), the Australian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australian trade agency Austrade and Invest India to promote bilateral investment flows. It has also established an Australia-India Food Partnership which would open new opportunities for agri-tech and services companies.
In addition to this, the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund would be granting up to US $ 500,000 that has been designed to help researchers solve challenges shared by both nations, including energy storage, marine science, and plant genomics.
The plan also looks forward to the expansion of Australia-India Mining Partnership at the Indian School of Mines, connecting Australian companies to India’s minerals-rich North Eastern states, supported by the new Consulate-General in Kolkata, India. Also, an engagement has been signed with airlines to increase direct flights through the Australia-India air services agreement.
Ministers across education, agribusiness, resources, and tourism will oversee the progress of the Government’s response and ongoing implementation of the India Economic Strategy, the report said. President of India Ram Nath Kovind is on his maiden visit to the island nation as the Head of Indian State.
The Prime Minister, along with the Minister for Trade, and Minister for Resources joined President Kovind at the launch of the Australian chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry-India Business Forum, which will serve as a platform for networking and policy advocacy for Indian businesses here in Australia.
“I look forward to continuing discussing the opportunities presented in the India Economic Strategy with President Kovind, and how we can continue to work together to develop enhanced economic ties,” the Australian Prime Minister said. “Today’s steps are only the first on a long journey that will see Australia and India grow together,” he added.
As simmering tensions continue in the Sino-Australian bilateral relationship, India looms as an increasingly attractive export and investment destination for Australian businesses looking to grow their operations in this Asian century.
This year, India cemented its position as the fastest growing major economy in the world, surpassing China. Since 2015, it has achieved a GDP growth rate of over 7 per cent per year. Its 2018–19 second quarter GDP growth rate was a 15-quarter high of 8.2 per cent (China: 6.7 per cent), raising hopes of 8 per cent annual GDP growth this fiscal year.
With common democratic and judicial systems, and a shared history of Commonwealth, colonisation and cricket, Australia and India are natural allies. But the tremendous potential for bilateral business growth has thus far been hobbled by a lack of political will on both sides of the Indian Ocean.
With the recent release of the ‘India Economic Strategy to 2035: Navigating from potential to delivery’ by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in July, the spotlight is on Australia-India bilateral trade, security and strategic relations.
The strategy was authored by former Australian high commissioner to India, former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary, and University of Queensland chancellor Peter Varghese.
Mr Varghese identified 10 sectors and 10 key Indian states that Australia should focus on in the next two decades. The sectors are education, agriculture, energy, resources, tourism, healthcare, financial services, infrastructure, science and innovation, and sport.
According to the report, by 2035, India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country and is poised to become the third largest economy, after China and the United States. It says that over the next 20 years, no single market will offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India.
“The targets set out in this report would see Australian exports to India grow from $14.9 billion in 2017 to around $45 billion measured in today’s dollars, and outward Australian investment to India rise from $10.3 billion to over the $100 billion mark, reflecting a transformational expansion of the relationship.
“That is the size of the opportunity and the key lesson for Australia of India’s scale, the momentum which is already built into its growth trajectory and the underlying complementarity between our two economies,” the report says.
“The opportunities however will not fall into our lap. They require a sharper national focus on India by government, an unambiguous commitment by Australian business and a deeper understanding by both government and business of the magnitude of what is unfolding in an Indian market place which will only get more crowded. They will also require an approach to the investment relationship with India that markedly differs from the trajectory of Australian investment in most other Asian markets.
“The transformation of the Indian economy is underway. Its progress will be uneven but the direction is clear and irreversible. To realise the opportunities this opens up, we need as a country to make a strategic investment in India which is backed up with an ambitious, long term and multidimensional Australian strategy driven at the highest levels of the Australian Government,” the report says.
After the departure of Mr Turnbull, who commissioned the report, it remains to be seen whether new Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Government will accord the bilateral trade relationship with India the same importance that Mr Turnbull did. If it does, Australia stands to benefit tremendously, if it fails to do so, Australian companies risk missing out on the tremendous opportunities.
All of this was the focus of this year’s Australia India Address 2018 delivered by Anthony Albanese, shadow minister for Infrastructure, Regional Development, Cities, Transport and Tourism. Mr Albanese gave the annual address organised by the Australia India Business Council ACT chapter at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra this month.
Highlighting the huge potential, Mr Albanese said: “Everyone talks about China, but our relationship with India is very important. It’s a democratic nation … it’s one with which we have close ties and has a large diaspora here. Thousands of Indian students come here to study … so I encourage the Australian business community to undertake more activities in India.”
He reminisced fondly about his first trip to India in 1991 as a backpacker with now wife Carmel Tebbutt, when they boarded buses, trains and auto-rickshaws and travelled around the country. And he contrasted that experience with the major transformation under way in India now, witnessing the changes during an official visit to India last year.
On the Indian side, the government is eyeing the trillion dollar Australian superannuation fund industry to invest in India’s booming infrastructure sector.
Indian pharmaceuticals and healthcare product manufacturers are hoping to gain entry into the Australian market to supply medicines and other high-quality healthcare products at competitive prices. India also wants to tap into Australia’s world-class sports facilities and coaching expertise to nurture its athletes and sportspeople, for whom Olympic success has proved embarrassingly elusive.
The primary purpose of Tuesday’s address was to promote and create new opportunities for bilateral trade and investment. The event attracted a high calibre of participants including representatives of the federal and ACT and governments, the business, education, health and tourism sectors, the diplomatic corps, and professionals from diverse fields.
The address provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity for businesses, policy makers, venture capitalists, private equity investors, angel funds, micro, small and medium enterprises, chambers of commerce, and entrepreneurs to come together and network for investment opportunities.
Sanjay Bhosale is the president of the Australia India Business Council ACT chapter. He is also a director on the AIBC national board of directors and a former journalist at The Canberra Times.
About FDI in India
Apart from being a critical driver of economic growth, foreign direct investment (FDI) is a major source of non-debt financial resource for the economic development of India. Foreign companies invest in India to take advantage of relatively lower wages, special investment privileges such as tax exemptions, etc. For a country where foreign investments are being made, it also means achieving technical know-how and generating employment.
The Indian government’s favourable policy regime and robust business environment have ensured that foreign capital keeps flowing into the country. The government has taken many initiatives in recent years such as relaxing FDI norms across sectors such as defence, PSU oil refineries, telecom, power exchanges, and stock exchanges, among others.
According to Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the total FDI investments in India April-June 2018 stood at US$ 12.75 billion, indicating that government’s effort to improve ease of doing business and relaxation in FDI norms is yielding results.
Data for April-June 2018 indicates that the services sector attracted the highest FDI equity inflow of US$ 2.43 billion, followed by trading – US$ 1.63 billion, telecommunications – US$ 1.59 billion and computer software and hardware – US$ 1.41 billion. Most recently, the total FDI equity inflows for the month of June 2018 touched US$ 2.89 billion.
During April-June 2018, India received the maximum FDI equity inflows from Singapore (US$ 6.52 billion), followed by Mauritius (US$ 1.49 billion), Japan (US$ 0.87 billion), Netherlands (US$ 0.84 billion), and United Kingdom (US$ 0.65 billion).
India emerged as the top recipient of greenfield FDI Inflows from the Commonwealth, as per a trade review released by The Commonwealth in 2018.
Some of the recent significant FDI announcements are as follows:
In August 2018, Bharti Airtel received approval of the Government of India for sale of 20 per cent stake in its DTH arm to an America based private equity firm, Warburg Pincus, for around $350 million.
In June 2018, Idea’s appeal for 100 per cent FDI was approved by Department of Telecommunication (DoT) followed by its Indian merger with Vodafone making Vodafone Idea the largest telecom operator in India
In May 2018, Walmart acquired a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for a consideration of US$ 16 billion.
In February 2018, Ikea announced its plans to invest up to Rs 4,000 crore (US$ 612 million) in the state of Maharashtra to set up multi-format stores and experience centres.
In November 2017, 39 MoUs were signed for investment of Rs 4,000-5,000 crore (US$ 612-765 million) in the state of North-East region of India.
In December 2017, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) approved FDI proposals of Damro Furniture and Supr Infotech Solutions in retail sector, while Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance approved two FDI proposals worth Rs 532 crore (US$ 81.4 million).
The Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India, closed three foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals leading to a total foreign investment worth Rs 24.56 crore (US$ 3.80 million) in October 2017.
Kathmandu based conglomerate, CG Group is looking to invest Rs 1,000 crore (US$ 155.97 million) in India by 2020 in its food and beverage business, stated Mr Varun Choudhary, Executive Director, CG Corp Global.
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank Group, is planning to invest about US$ 6 billion through 2022 in several sustainable and renewable energy programmes in India.
Government of India is planning to consider 100 per cent FDI in Insurance intermediaries in India to give a boost to the sector and attracting more funds.
In January 2018, Government of India allowed foreign airlines to invest in Air India up to 49 per cent with government approval. The investment cannot exceed 49 per cent directly or indirectly.
No government approval will be required for FDI up to an extent of 100 per cent in Real Estate Broking Services.
In September 2017, the Government of India asked the states to focus on strengthening single window clearance system for fast-tracking approval processes, in order to increase Japanese investments in India.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India has eased the approval mechanism for foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals by doing away with the approval of Department of Revenue and mandating clearance of all proposals requiring approval within 10 weeks after the receipt of application.
The Government of India is in talks with stakeholders to further ease foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence under the automatic route to 51 per cent from the current 49 per cent, in order to give a boost to the Make in India initiative and to generate employment.
In January 2018, Government of India allowed 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail through automatic route.
India has become the most attractive emerging market for global partners (GP) investment for the coming 12 months, as per a recent market attractiveness survey conducted by Emerging Market Private Equity Association (EMPEA).
Annual FDI inflows in the country are expected to rise to US$ 75 billion over the next five years, as per a report by UBS.
The World Bank has stated that private investments in India is expected to grow by 8.8 per cent in FY 2018-19 to overtake private consumption growth of 7.4 per cent, and thereby drive the growth in India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in FY 2018-19.
Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.014099 as on August 31, 2018.
Outbound investments from India have undergone a considerable change not only in terms of magnitude but also in terms of geographical spread and sectorial composition. Analysis of the trends in direct investments over the last decade reveals that while investment flows, both inward and outward, were rather muted during the early part of the decade, they gained momentum during the latter half.
There has been a perceptible shift in Overseas Investment Destination (OID) in last decade or so. While in the first half, overseas investments were directed to resource rich countries such as Australia, UAE, and Sudan, in the latter half, OID was channelled into countries providing higher tax benefits such as Mauritius, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands.
Indian firms invest in foreign shores primarily through Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) transactions. With rising M&A activity, companies will get direct access to newer and more extensive markets, and better technologies, which would enable them to increase their customer base and achieve a global reach.
According to the data provided by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) in equity, loan and guaranteed issue stood at US$ 11.33 billion in 2017-18 and US$ 1,093.6 million in October 2018.
India’s cumulative stock of Overseas Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) stood at US$ 155 billion in 2017.
In a recent development, UK announced that India has become the third largest source of FDI for them as investments increased by 65 per cent in 2015 leading to over 9,000 new and safeguarded jobs.
Some of the major overseas investments by Indian companies were:
- Ashok Leyland has set up a new facility in Dhaka, Bangladesh in a joint venture with IFAD Autos. The sales, service and spares facility is spread over 138,000 square feet and is going to cater to the entire range of Ashok Leyland vehicles.
- Indian IT major Infosys is going to set up a technology and innovation hub in Texas and hire 500 American workers by 2020.
- Tyre Manufacturer Balkrishna Industries is going to set up a US$ 100 million production facility in US. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 20,000 MT and will serve the entire American region.
- Pharmaceutical major Cipla’s subsidiary, Cipla Maroc, opened a manufacturing plant for metered-dose inhalers in Ain Aouda in the Rabat region in Morocco. The facility is spread over a total area of 4,000 square meters and has a capacity of 1.5 million HFA metered-dose inhalers.
- Apollo Tyres has commenced commercial production of its truck tyres at its facility in Hungaria. This is the company’s second facility in Europe and has an installed capacity of 14,000 passenger car tyres a day and 1,200 truck tyres a day.
- Pidilite Lanka Pvt Ltd, ahesives manufacturer Pidilite’s joint venture (JV) company with Macbertan Pvt Ltd, unveiled a new world class manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka. The plant is spread over an area of four acres and will help the company enhance its market share in the country.
- India’s cinema companies are planning to foray into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Carnival Cinema’s is planning to open 500 screens in Saudi Arabia over the next five years. Also, PVR Cinemas has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group to explore opportunities for entering the cinema business in the MENA region.
- Thirumalai Chemicals’ subsidiary in Malaysia is going to enhance its Maleic Anhydride production capacity to 65,000 tons per year. Further, Thirumalai Chemicals is exploring the possibility of setting up a greenfield facility for production of food ingredients in US, which will serve the North American and European markets.
- Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd entered into a joint venture (JV) with Ideal Motors Ltd to set up an automotive assembly plant in Sri Lanka. The plant will provide new opportunities to both the companies in Sri Lanka, which is one of Mahindra’s top three export markets.
- Indian IT services provider Tech Mahindra is going to invest Rs 5.1 billion (US$ 78.54 million) in Canada over the next five years for setting up of a centre of excellence which will operate on major technologies such as blockchain application and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Indian firms have employed a total of 113,423 people and made investments over US$ 17.9 billion in the US.
- Sterlite Power has won a 1,800 km power transmission project worth US$ 800 million in Brazil, the company’s third project in Brazil and the largest ever project won by an Indian company in Latin America.
- Indian conglomerate, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), is going to invest US$ 25 million in Israel-based Jerusalem Innovation Incubator (JII), which will focus on startups working in the field of big data, analytics, Internet of Things and other similar areas.
- Government of India’s Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have invested over US$ 15 billion in Russia’s oil and gas projects and are planning to undertake more investments in the country’s oil and gas fields.
- The RBI, encouraged by adequate forex reserves, has relaxed the norms for domestic companies investing abroad by doing away with the ceiling for raising funds through pledge of shares, domestic and overseas assets. In addition to joint ventures (JVs) and wholly owned subsidiaries (WOSs), the central bank has announced similar concessions for pledging of shares in case of step down subsidiary.
- The RBI also liberalised/ rationalised guidelines for foreign investments abroad by Indian companies. It raised the annual overseas investment ceiling to US$ 125,000 from US$ 75,000 to establish JV and wholly owned subsidiaries. The government’s supportive policy regime complemented by India Inc.’s experimental outlook could lead to an upward trend in OFDI in future.
- The Union Cabinet has permitted ONGC Videsh to acquire 11 per cent stake in Russian oil company JSC Vankorneft from Rosneft Oil Co. for US$ 930 million.
Overseas investment is one of the foremost steps to enter the global marketplace and in recent times, India has taken necessary steps to make its presence felt in the global arena. Investment outlook in some of the overseas market looks positive. For instance, the Indian industry is projected to increase its revenue from Africa. IT services, infrastructure, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods are vital to India boosting Africa revenues to US$ 160 billion by 2025, as per McKinsey & Co.
In another development, the Ministry of External Affairs has initiated a move to set up a direct sea and air link between India and the Latin American region, as Indian corporates plan significant investments in the mining, oil, IT and pharmaceutical sectors in that region.
Overseas investments by India companies are expected to increase, backed by stable market conditions and considerable impact of the investments on local economies.
Exchange Rates Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0143 as on December 31, 2018
Back in 1893, Australia’s second Prime Minister and the leader of the Australian Federation Movement, Alfred Deakin documented, with some degree of dismay, his country’s fledgling trade with India and flagged the potential for exports for its dairy, fruit and vegetables. Well over a century after Deakin recorded this in one of the two authoritative treatises he wrote on India, both nations are still struggling to kindle a relationship that is largely underdone, with the words “natural partners” and “potential” continuing to the most used expressions by those attempting to chronicle the bilateral engagements story so far, with limited progress on the ground beyond that.
Sample this: Australia’s two-way trade with India is at about the same level as it is with New Zealand, a country of about 4.5 million people – or about a quarter of Delhi’s population. Around 19,000 Australian companies currently export to New Zealand as against just about 2,000 that export to India. As Australia’s shadow trade minister and member of the Australian Labor Party Jason Clare succinctly pointed out at a business summit in Sydney earlier this month, Australia’s exports to China in the last ten years have more than quadrupled in value even as its exports to India have dropped by about a quarter in value terms. Today, China is Australia’s biggest trading partner in terms of both imports and exports while Australia is China’s sixth largest trading partner, its fifth biggest supplier of imports and its tenth biggest customer for exports. The foundation for this relationship is said to be a report — Australian and the North East Asia Ascendency — prepared by economist Ross Garnaut for the Bob Hawke Labour Party government almost 30 years ago, which catalysed the opening up of Australia’s economy, scaling down of its tariff barriers and a calibrated ramping up of trade with East Asia.
Staccato bursts of activity notwithstanding, the Australia-India engagement has struggled to take off despite concerted efforts by each of the administrations in Canberra that followed the government of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the Mandarin-speaking former diplomat and self-avowed Sinophile. A fresh reboot, Canberra feels, is on the cards, with its foundation being a long-term strategy penned by former diplomat, Peter Varghese, for Australia to build and develop its economic ties with India between now and 2035. The voluminous report packs in ambitious targets, including making India Australia’s third largest trading partner, and is full of tangible ideas, such as setting up a ‘Study in Australia’ education hub in New Delhi, exploring options for a consortium of Australian universities to be the lead partner in the establishment of one of the six new Indian Institutes of Technology, promoting more direct air services between Australia and India and establishing a Strategic Economic Dialogue. At the political level in Canberra, there appears to be bipartisan support for this, with the opposition Labour party committing to support its top recommendations even as Australia’s current Prime Minister Scott Morrison used a meeting with visiting President Ram Nath Kovind late last month to endorse the Varghese blueprint. But it’s still a divided house on whether the Varghese report could have a transformative impact on the India relationship on the lines of what the Garnaut report did to the Australia-China engagement, especially given the fresh turbulence in the relationship as both countries head into general elections. Australia has already escalated a discord with New Delhi over sugar subsidies by formally referring the issue to the World Trade Organisation even as the negotiations between the two sides on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement have clearly gone off-track. Meanwhile, a proposal to ship uranium to India, widely construed by New Delhi as a confidence building measure, continues to hang fire, well over a year after Australia sent its first shipment to India — “a small sample of uranium” transferred “purely for testing purposes” in April 2017. Australia’s trade and investment minister Simon Birmingham, in a recent interaction with Indian journalists, asserted that Australia and India are making “real progress” on the issue.
There are no major flag bearers for corporate India in Australia — something that is seen as a constraint. The Adani group’s $12 billion Carmichael project coal site in Queensland state is perhaps the most visible Indian investment in Australia, which has been delayed for six years because of a series of legal challenges and reports evaluating its environmental impact, alongside issues faced by Adani in tying up funds. Supporters of the project such as Australia India Business Council’s Jim Varghese and Northern Australia Minister Matthew Canavan maintain that the project has been a victim of ill-informed protest activity and an indecisive state Labor government. Opponents such as the Australian Conservation Foundation claim the mine still faced a number of hurdles and was being investigated by the Queensland government for breaches relating to illegal bore holes.
Among the positives on the trade front, rising thermal and coking coal imports by India mean gains for miners such as Australia’s Whitehaven Coal and Rio Tinto. The biggest positive, though, is the story of the Indian diaspora in Australia. While trade has been stagnant, the Indian diaspora in Australia has boomed, with the number of Indian Australians tripling over the last 10 years. One in every 50 Australians is now born in India. According to the University of Melbourne’s Lesleyanne Hawthorne, in the past decade, Indian migrants have emerged as Australia’s primary skilled migration resource. From 2008-09 to 2016-17 114,640 primary applicants (PAs) secured new grants in the permanent skilled migration program, far higher than Australia’s other top source countries that include the UK, China, the Philippines, Ireland and Malaysia. As established by Australian national census data, new Indian migrants have also been disproportionately young, male, clustered in westerns states of Victoria and New South Wales, and tertiary-qualified (with a remarkable 80 per cent holding post-school qualifications compared to 56 per cent of Australia’s overall population). Provinces such as Western Australia — the country’s biggest state — are now vying aggressively to explore business opportunities involving Indians, with aggressive efforts to establish new connectivity from India to Perth. Rebecca Brown, Director-General in the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, Western Australia, told visiting Indian journalists that there exists opportunities for Indian companies to tap into the state’s mineral resources. Andrew Oldfield, Andrew Oldfield, Director (Partnership) at Tourism Western Australia, indicated that Air India is exploring business viability of a direct flight to Perth and a special programme has been launched to train over 3,700 travel agents in India.
Political and Economic
Australia has placed India at the forefront of its international partnerships. Both governments recognise there is significant potential for further cooperation across a broad range of areas. Two-way Prime Ministerial visits in 2014 built significant momentum in the relationship and affirmed the Strategic Partnership agreed to in 2009.
India is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and our fifth-largest export market. Major exports to India include coal, copper and gold; major imports from India include refined petroleum, pearls and gems, and medicaments. We are seeking to deepen our bilateral trade and investment links through the conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
Building on a long history of cooperation – including our shared experience in the trenches of World War I in Gallipoli and along the Western Front – Australia and India have a positive defence relationship, underpinned by the 2006 Memorandum on Defence Cooperation and the 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.
In recent years our defence relationship has grown to include a range of forums for strategic dialogue, as well as regular interactions between our respective services through senior visits, staff talks, and training exchanges.
Key platforms for strategic dialogue include the annual Defence Policy Talks and the annual 1.5 Track Defence Strategic Dialogue, with the most recent Defence Policy Talks hosted by Australia in 2015. Senior visits also occur on a regular basis. In September 2015 the then Australian Minister of Defence visited India, resulting in agreement to deepen our defence cooperation ties, including through establishing a Joint Working Group on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation. Service chiefs from both countries regularly engage with their counterparts, exchange security perspectives, and gain an understanding of each other’s structures and capabilities through visits, with the Indian Chief of Naval Staff recently visiting Australia in October 2015. The services also engage regularly through Navy, Army and Air Force Staff Talks.
Australia and India continue to build robust people-to-people links between our defence forces through regular personnel and training exchanges, such as short specialist courses and longer-term positions. Every year, Australia sends two officers to attend Indian military educational institutions: one officer attends India’s Defence Services Staff College, while another attends its National Defence College. India also sends two officers to study in Australia annually, with one attending Australia’s Command and Staff College and the other attending the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. In 2015, an Australian officer also attended the Indian Navy’s Long Hydrography course in Goa.
Australia and India are committed to working together to enhance maritime cooperation, with our first formal bilateral naval exercise (AUSINDEX) held off the coast of Visakhapatnam in 2015. In September 2015, our defence ministers committed to holding AUSINDEX biennially, and the next iteration will take place in Australia in 2017.
Practical cooperation between Australia and India is evident through our joint participation in a range of activities. Australia participated in the Indian-hosted Exercise MILAN 2014, which included the opportunity to cooperate with India and other regional Navies. In June 2015, two Indian Navy ships Satpura and Kamorta visited Fremantle in Western Australia, coinciding with a visit by the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Commander. In February 2016, Australia’s Chief of Navy, a Royal Australian Navy ship and a detachment of the RAN Band will visit Visakhapatnam to participate in the Indian Navy’s International Fleet Review.
Education and Training
The Department of Education and Training works with the education sector, other government agencies and ministries to ensure Australia is recognised as a regional and world leader in education and a partner of choice for international collaboration. The department provides leadership and coordination across government, delivering programs and policies to support mobility and the global exchange of knowledge.
The Department of Education and Training office at the Australian High Commission leads strategic policy, regulation and government to government engagement in international education and research across India and the region (Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives).
The Australia-India Council (AIC) was established by the Australian Government in May 1992 to broaden and deepen Australia-India relations through contacts and exchanges in a range of fields that promote mutual awareness and understanding. The AIC is a non-statutory body with a Chairman and a Board appointed by the Government on a part-time basis for three years. The AIC is serviced by a secretariat in Canberra, while the Australian High Commission in New Delhi manages the AIC’s activities in India.
Australia-India Strategic Lecture
The Australia-India Strategic Lecture is a public diplomacy initiative to strengthen the Australia-India bilateral relationship with a focus on security and strategic issues. The lecture series is a joint venture between the AIC and the Lowy Institute, and provides a program of annual lectures in Australia by eminent Indians in the fields of regional and international politics and security.
India and Australia on Thursday m signed five agreements to boost education and business partnership marking President Ram Nath Kovinds ongoing visit.
The President held talks with Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and Prime Minister Scott Morrison; was accorded a ceremonial reception and hosted at a luncheon banquet by the Governor-General at Admiralty House; and unveiled, along with the Australian Prime Minister, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Jubilee Park in Parramatta, near Sydney ..
The President also delivered two major addresses – at the Australian Financial Review India Business Summit; and at the Australia-India Business Council dinner event hosted in his honour.
As part of President Kovind’s visit, five agreements have been concluded between India and Australia. These are — An agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Australia for cooperation in the area of disability and to deliver services to the differently-abled; An agreement between the Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur, and the University of Western Australia, Perth, for cooperation in agricultural research and education; A Joint PhD agreement between the Indraprashta Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, and the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.
Kovind and Morrison were together on three separate occasions today, including during their morning round of talks. Several issues came up in their wide-ranging discussion including trade and investment, the need to expand the trade basket from simply a few commodities, and the strong connections forged by the Indian diaspora.
In the afternoon, speaking at the Australian Financial Review India Business Summit, at which Morrison was also present, Kovind said that in recent years India has renewed its commitment to a liberal, transparent and globalised economy. In terms of openness to foreign capital and international investors, India is in the top league.Business sector after business sector, from aviation to mining to defence production, has had doors thrown open to global players and investors. Several measures – fiscal and regulatory, infrastructure promotion and investment policy – have been taken to make India even more of a hub for new, exciting and global businesses.
The President said that the international business community has responded to India’s achievements with appreciable investment. In financial year 2017-18, India drew almost $ 62 billion in FDI. This was an acknowledgement of India’s honest and reformist efforts – and of its high GDP growth.
The President noted that the big country and big friend that we not seeing as much of in the India investment story is Australia. This is a gap we need to address. Australia and India have too much at stake in each other to not up their game. We can collaborate and benefit from each other’s expertise in fintech and logistics, in industrial design and biotech, in the capital markets and in farm-to-fork management of the food chain – even in space tech and satellite launch services. India’s longstanding space programme, the President said, will be happy to support the new Australian Space Agency.
The President said that Australian super-funds or pension funds have a reputation for careful, calibrated investment decisions. They will find the Indian infrastructure space worth their while – with long-term investments, steady to high returns, confidence in growing consumption, and security in contractual adherence.
Ending his speech on a lighter note, the President urged Australian businesspersons and investors looking to India to borrow from the methods of their cricketers. The most successful Australian batsmen in India, he said, have been those who have shown patience, read the conditions carefully, settled down for the long innings, nurtured dependable partnerships – and not fallen for spin!
At the Australia-India Business Council event, the President praised the Council as a key driver of Australia-India business and investment. He expressed confidence that the Council’s members would further bilateral trade and engagement.
As Washington and Beijing fight out their trade war, Asia’s most developed countries are trying to reduce their dependence on China — and turn toward India.
Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia — all close allies of the United States — are among the countries attempting to diversify their economies away from dependence on China, whose export-oriented industries are likely to be hurt by the trade war.
Many Asian countries produce goods that are assembled in China before being exported stateside, making the entire region’s manufacturing chain vulnerable to U.S.-China trade tensions.
“Whereas in the past, India was coy about suggesting a larger regional role, today, India talks of itself (as) a leading global player.”
-Harsh Pant, distinguished fellow, Observer Research Foundation
Boosting trade within Asia is widely seen as the region’s best safeguard, and that’s pushing Japan, South Korea and Australia to pay more attention to its neighbors — particularly India, said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, lead researcher at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a Singapore-based think tank.
The trade war means Asian countries “do not have the luxury of continuing with their traditional approach,” said Harsh Pant, a distinguished fellow at Indian think tank, Observer Research Foundation. “They need other actors like India, which has been highlighting its credentials as a responsible security and economic partner.”
The Australian government announced an ambitious “India Economic Strategy” in July. By 2035, Australia hopes to make India one of its top three export markets and the third biggest Asian destination for outward investment.
Late last year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in introduced a blueprint known as the “Southern Policy” that’s focused on deepening ties with Southeast Asia. India — despite not being geographically part of Southeast Asia — will be Seoul’s “key partner for cooperation” on that front, Moon said during a visit to New Delhi in July.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is due to visit New Delhi next week, has committed to making India a pillar of his Indo-Pacific blueprint, which promotes infrastructure investment and development in Asian and African emerging markets. It was first announced in 2016, well before U.S. President Donald Trump started using the term.
The primary areas of cooperation between India and Japan are personal contacts, strengthened maritime ties and improved relations on defense and development, Japanese Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu said at a briefing organized by Brookings India on Monday.
Taiwanese companies such as Foxconn, the world biggest contract manufacturer, have invested in India as part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s New Southbound Policy, which was announced in 2016.
But can India take advantage?
From a political perspective, “the stars are aligning in Asia for the acceleration of India’s economic growth,” Dhruva Jaishankar, foreign policy fellow at Brookings India, wrote in a note this month.
“Beijing’s use of its economic muscle for political purposes” could be another factor pushing countries toward India, he said. Jaishankar pointed to Beijing’s suspension of rare earth metal exports to Japan amid a territorial dispute in 2010, and more recently, China’s punishment of South Korean firms over a missile defense system.
It remains to be seen, however, whether New Delhi can benefit from all these trends.
On one hand, India’s economic rise and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s energetic diplomacy make the country the ideal partner for Asian countries.
“Whereas in the past, India was coy about suggesting a larger regional role, today, India talks of itself (as) a leading global player,” said the Observer Research Foundation’s Pant.
But challenges lie ahead.
India will need to ramp up its economic and security engagement with other countries in the region, since China is far ahead on both fronts, Pant warned.
On top of that, amid the South Asian country’s’s legacy of poorly negotiated trade deals and uneven economic liberalization, “the likelihood of India taking full advantage of these opportunities remains slim,” Jaishankar said.
Source : Business Standard
India offers the best economic growth potential for Australia and not China over the next 20 years, a report supported by the Australian government has pointed out.
‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’, penned by former Australian High Commissioner to India Peter N Varghese, bats for more economic linkages between the nations at a time Indian businesses have been scouting for newer overseas markets, egged on by the government.
“If you look globally at where the best prospects for growth in trade and investment relations are, India stands out as the single most significant growth opportunity for Australia. Our trade with Beijing is many multiples of our trade with New Delhi so I’m not expecting India to overtake China. The vision in the report is to bring India up to the third position among Australia’s trade partners,” Verghese, who had earlier also been the Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary, told Business Standard.
The 500-page report has been submitted to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office and his government will be bringing out its official recommendations on the report by the end of the year, Verghese added.
Official statistics show that India’s exports to Australia stood at $4 billion in 2017-18, while imports were pegged at nearly $14 billion. While higher crude oil prices have led to greater realisations from processed petroleum shipments ($1.35 billion), most other categories of exports to Australia have stagnated.
On the other hand, the yawning trade deficit has principally been due to Australian coal and natural gas exports worth over $9 billion. India also continues to prominently figure among major markets receiving farm produce from ‘down under’. The country sent over $924 million worth of chickpeas and pulses and $125.63 million worth of wheat in the last financial year. These imports have witnessed a steady rise over four years and agri majors such as GrainCorp and Olam Australia are looking to scale up business in India and nearby markets, according to a senior official from the Australian High Commission.
Agribusiness, along with the associated sectors of logistics and food processing, is among the major sectors that can see economic ties jump, Verghese said. Australian companies in the resources space — coal, natural gas and pulses — still view India as a preferred destination for exports, he added. His report also points to educational services, provided by Australian universities as another rising sector, at a time when the number of Indian students to Australia has continued to grow. India and Australia are currently negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) apart from being members of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). While liberalisation of trade and services regime, removal of non-tariff barriers and encouraging investments have been the broad aims of both engagements, talks have faltered on tariff reduction and market access.
The 16-nation RCEP agreement involves the ten countries of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) grouping and six of its free trade partners — China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Australia. Under the RCEP, India had earlier offered tariff elimination of 42.5 per cent of all traded goods to Australia, while that country has offered zero tariff on 80 per cent of such goods.
On the other hand, discussions on market access for Australian dairy products and meat have proved to be major sticking points in the proposed bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), talks on which had begun in 2011.
More than 13 rounds of negotiations have been completed so far. “There is a lot that can be done even in the absence of an FTA. The barriers to free trade in the future are going to be less about tariffs and more about behind the border, regular trade barriers,” Verghese added.
He suggested that Canberra may be looking to conclude RCEP talks first and test the waters before starting up talks on the FTA with India, that have now slowed down.
Earlier this year, a two-day visit by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu saw India promising to commission a strategy paper focusing on Australia.
Source : AUSTRADE
Close to 600 participants attended a series of seminars across Australia in September to learn more about business opportunities in India and a new strategy to strengthen the India-Australia economic relationship.
The joint Austrade-Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade seminar series focused on the newly released India Economic Strategy to 2035 – Navigating from Potential to Delivery.
India is poised to become a top three global economy by 2030. The India Economic Strategy is an ambitious plan to transform Australia’s longstanding economic partnership with the country, to lift India into our top three export markets and make it a key ally in Asia.
‘There is no market over the next 20 years which offers more growth opportunities for Australian business than India,’ says Leonie Muldoon, Austrade’s New Delhi-based Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner for South Asia.
‘India has population growth and demographics on its side, an expanding consumer class, rapid urbanisation, and growing entrepreneurial approach – all key drivers of growth.’
India is the sixth largest global economy and the fastest-growing major economy in the world, with a GDP of US$2.84 trillion increasing at around 7.3% annually.
By 2025, one-fifth of the world’s working age population will be Indian. By 2030, India will have over 850 million internet users, according to the report.
Against this backdrop, there are significant opportunities for Australian industry. The India Economic Strategy identifies 10 sectors in which Australia has competitive advantages, and focuses on 10 Indian states in which the combination of economic heft, commitment to reform and sector relevance can boost Australian export opportunities.
The sectors include:
- agribusiness – technology, products and services; agri-commodities; premium food and beverages
- rail, smart urban infrastructure, transport infrastructure, water and environment
- mining, oil and gas – mining equipment, technology and services
- advanced manufacturing – aerospace, defence and future transport
- healthcare, life sciences and biotech
- ICT, fintech, cyber security and disruptive technologies
- higher education, vocational education, corporate training and e-commerce.
‘These are all sectors in which Austrade is committed to delivering quality trade services for Australian businesses,’ says Muldoon.
‘A growing Indian economy will need more of the merchandise and services that Australia is well placed to provide, from education to resources and energy; from food to healthcare; from tourist destinations to expertise in water and environmental management.
‘Services are likely to be the fastest-growing segment of Australia’s economic relationship with India.’
The seminars, held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in September 2018, attracted a cross-section of Australian businesses.
With the support of state governments and peak industry associations, Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to India, and Muldoon delivered comprehensive briefings on India today. They emphasised the importance of a country-specific strategy, niche geographical targeting, awareness of business and cultural differences, and cultivating personal relationships.
Alongside the seminars, boardroom briefings for CEOs and industry roundtables on education, food and beverage and METS were organised in partnership with Deloitte, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Study Queensland, Study Perth, Austmine, Export Council of Australia, Go8 Australia, Minerals Council of Australia, Universities Australia, Study Gold Coast, Study Adelaide, Study Melbourne and Pulse Australia