Publish Date: 2018-09-27

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

Source: Business Standard
Publish Date: 2018-08-22

India offers the best economic growth potential for 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 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 and investment relations are, India stands out as the single most significant growth opportunity for  Our with Beijing is many multiples of our 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 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 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.