Potential to take trade ties with India to new level, says Andrew Robb

robbLike so many Australians over the summer, I got to spend a day at the cricket. In my case it was during the Fourth Test between Australia and India at the SCG.

This was just before leading a most productive 450-strong Australian business mission to India, our largest ever to the sub-continent.

Australia Business Week in India re-emphasised a mutual love of cricket is something that connects our two countries in a very healthy way, but it also demonstrates that there is so much more we have in common to leverage.

We share a British colonial past, with many similar institutions. We are both healthy democracies, India being the world’s largest.

India is also challenging the US as the biggest English-speaking country on the planet with as many as 350 million, which for us Australians makes doing business that much easier.

These factors mean there is certain logic to building relations in the years ahead after a long period of neglect, something we both acknowledge.

Our current two-way trade profile as compared with China, which has a similar population to India’s 1.25 billion, highlights the enormous scope to take our relationship with India to a new level.

While our two-way trade with China stands at $160 billion, our two-way trade with India is 10 times less at $15.2 billion.

Australia has a great deal to offer India as it transforms into a modern economic powerhouse.

Like China, it is part of an unfolding humanitarian miracle as it brings hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into the ranks of the middle class.

India clearly recognises and values the role Australia has to play in supporting its ambition of driving long and sustainable growth.

As Prime Minister Modi told our Parliament, India sees Australia as “a major partner across every area of our national priority”.

This was a message he repeated when I met him recently in his home state of Gujarat to advance talks on a bilateral trade and investment agreement that we aim to conclude by the end of 2015.

Prime Minister Modi appears to have something special. We saw this with the rock star welcome he was given during last year’s visit to Sydney.

If he delivers on his inspirational vision for India, his country could indeed be the next China.

After concluding a powerful trifecta of trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China last year, India is our No.1 priority this year.

Resources and energy and agribusiness and food are the two most obvious areas of strength where Australia has much to offer India but it runs much broader to financial services, infrastructure, education and training, health and medical services, tourism, transport, sport and cultural services.

All of these sectors were actively promoted by Australian business leaders and the likes of NSW Premier Mike Baird.

They found very receptive audiences with events staged across eight key Indian cities.

A number of very promising deals were struck during the week between Australian and Indian businesses across areas such as energy, education, banking and finance and the film industry where ‘Bollywood’ is keen to collaborate with us to name a few.

Wollongong University, for example, signed with a leading Indian petroleum university to further develop a centre of mining excellence.

While immediate tangibles are important, I have no doubt the many people-to-people links that were made between Australian and Indian delegates have sown the seeds of all sorts of commercial benefits.

From Australia’s perspective we would like to see substantially higher levels of Indian investment in Australia, which currently stands at about $11 billion.

Prime Minister Modi’s ”Make in India” strategy would also see India leverage its strengths to become the world’s leading, high quality, low cost manufacturing hub.

This offers opportunities for Australian businesses, especially small and medium businesses, to supply high-value manufactured components into these Indian supply chains.

Having travelled around India, it is obvious there’s an excitement building about what is starting to emerge between our two countries.

And while the bond forged through the game of cricket is a great thing, the potential in our relationship runs much deeper than that.

Share this :

Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The
Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *