The IST Staff
Sydney 05, 2018
When Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley visited Australia in 2016, he told media in Sydney that he was scouting for the vast Australian Superannuation fund to be invested in growing Indian economy. The Australian leaders saw that there was great potential in India and the Prime Minister Hon Malcolm Turnbull launched an India Economic Strategy to 2035 that was authored by former Australian High Commissioner to India Mr. Peter N Varghese, AO.
Taking a cue from Mr. Jaitley’s statement, Ms. Shemara Wikramanayeke of the Macquaire Group said ,during a panel discussion at the launch of 500 page the Peter’s report in Sydney on Thursday last, that the sheer weight of money will force super fund to look to India. She said the Australian super pool was heading towards $ 3 trillion and “India is a country that’s very high growth. I think the reason that people have been reluctant to invest in India from Australia is that the risks have been higher historically, but things are starting to change now.”
“India remains a challenging place to do business, but there is no question in my mind that the balance sheet between opportunities and challenges clearly favours opportunities,” Mr Varghese, who is now University of Queensland chancellor, said at the CEDA event.
Mr. Ashok Jacob, who is chairman of the Australia-India Council, said there needed to be an “ignition button pressed”
He said chief executives and boards were on notice that in 10 years they would be asked whether they had looked closely enough at India.
Mr. Varghese who first gave an overview of his report said the structural drivers that were making India the fastest-growing major economy in the world, including vast urbanisation, a mean age of 27 and an ambitious infrastructure investment program. That is expected to keep India’s growth at between 6 and 8 per cent over the next 20 years.
He said the government should switch focus to negotiations for a regional trade deal. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) includes south-east Asian countries, India and New Zealand, as well as Japan, China and South Korea.
Former Premier of NSW, Mr. Barry O’Farrell chaired the discussion that was later thrown open for a Q and A session. Among the audience, Ms.Pallavi Sinha, Lawyer & Academic & NSW Council for Women’s Economic Opportunity thanked CEDA & the Panellists for the event. She spoke about the importance of including women in implementing the Indian Economic Strategy (women are about 51% of the Australian population & some reports suggest that the economic participation in India is falling). She said that as a Chair of Women in Business AIBC NSW she is driving a leadership dialogue with the Australian High Commissioner to India Her Excellency Harinder Sidhu. She asked if this could be an opportunity to explore ways to implement the strategy
pg 7 of the strategy states:“…the likely growing political influence of the Indian diaspora, something which is already evident in state politics. As they have in Canada, the Indian diaspora may prove over the next two decades to be the most politically active of any migrant group in Australian history since the Irish. This will have implications for the priority our political leaders will place on the relationship with India.”
pg 356 states “Compared to the professional Indian diaspora in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Singapore, the Indian diaspora in Australia are yet to achieve a similar level of influence in higher levels of state and federal politics, academia and business. As our Indian diaspora become more politically active, both within the electorate and in the political class, the impetus of Australian state and federal governments to promote the bilateral relationship will only increase.”
According to Amitabh Mattoo, The Varghese report has yet to be adopted by the Federal Parliament and in the Pacific dialogue, The Rudd Government had excluded India from the group. And now, there is talk to switch the emphasis on India as part of The RCEP.
Among the key areas where Australia can invest are Education, Tourism, Agribusinesses, Resources, Energy, Health and Financial Services.