Australia-India relations are at an all-time high. Over the last six months, we have concluded a civil nuclear agreement, developed a new Framework for Security Cooperation, signed a Social Security Agreement to reduce business costs and enhance two-way mobility, extended our science cooperation with a new focus on commercialising research outcomes, and achieved strong growth in two way tourism, migration and education flows.
We were honoured to host Prime Minister Modi in November, the first visit by an Indian PM in 28 years. In his historic address to the Australian parliament, he said, “I see Australia as a major partner in every area of our national priority.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was the first leader hosted by Modi in India in September, shares this high level of ambition for the relationship.
The two leaders also share a vision for economic development driven by trade, investment and liberalisation. Just as international investors have taken note that Australia is now ‘open for business’, they have warmly welcomed Modi’s pledge to welcome investors in India with a ‘red carpet, not red tape’. We are greatly encouraged by the Modi government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business.
That is why I am leading the largest ever Australian trade mission to India – over 400 business leaders drawn from all our major industry sectors, from mining, agriculture and infrastructure to education, health and financial services. ‘Australia Business Week in India’ will see Australian and Indian business coming together in eight Indian cities.
In many ways, Australia and India are natural economic partners. Australia can help India achieve energy security. We have approved more than $15 billion in Indian coal investments in Queensland over the past year. The coal produced will help bring electricity to Indian industry and more than 100 million consumers. Australia can also help India diversify its energy base through the supply of low-emission LNG and uranium.
As a mining superpower, Australia also wants to share the technology, expertise and capital that will help unlock India’s own vast mineral and resources endowment. Our world-class mining companies such as Rio Tinto have a proven commitment to India. Australian companies are excited by the opportunities to ‘Make in India’.
Australian banks and pension funds have the world’s third-largest pool of funds under management – currently some $3 trillion – and we see an obvious match with India’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure development. Australia and India are world renowned agriculture producers. We see India as a major market for our premium products such as pulses, wool, dairy and wine. But we also want to help Indian producers make the investments in technology, logistics and storage that will ensure strong future growth.
Australia has welcomed more than 300,000 Indian students to our shores over the past decade. Many have undertaken work experience in Australia, and are now excelling across the globe. This reflects the strength of India’s talent pool, but also the standing of Australia’s universities, including eight in the world’s top 100. We are looking to send many more Australian students to Asia under the New Colombo Plan (NCP).
Indeed, India will be the third most-popular destination when the NCP is rolled out across the region in 2015. Our world-class vocational training providers are also working hard to develop the partnerships that will enable them to provide skills training in India, potentially to millions of young Indians.
In 2014, Australia concluded high quality free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea, our first, second and fourth-largest trading partners, respectively. Our highest FTA priority is now the conclusion of a bilateral trade deal with India. Our leaders have committed to concluding the deal by the end of 2015.
We see tremendous opportunities for both sides, and notably for Indian business in sectors such as IT, communications, manufacturing and services.
And finally, it’s not too late for Indian business leaders to mix business networking with pleasure by participating in the Match Australia programme as part of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. May the best team win!
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555