‘’INDIA will be among Australia’s top three trading partners by 2035’’

INDIÁ’S business leaders and the Australian government have expressed happiness over the expanding relations between the two nations in varied fields. The Kolkata headquartered Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a Special Session on ‘Doing Business with Australia’ with Andrew Ford, Consul General of Australia. Ford said that India and Australia have an accurate and contemporary understanding of each other. The Australian Government commissioned the India Economic Strategy in 2017 which was released in 2018. This report foresees that India, which is currently Australia’s fifth-largest trading partner, will be among its top three trading partners by 2035. Australia has a standard model for economic engagement with Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, whereby it supplies minerals and raw materials to the region. In the case of India, Australia has chosen a different path for economic engagement as India is a consumption and services driven economy.    The India Economic Strategy Report focused on problems faced by Australian companies in India. It maps out ten focus areas for Australia such as Education, which is a flagship sector, Resources obtained from mining, Agri business for India’s food security, Tourism which is a high growth area for Australia, Infrastructure, Health, Financial Services, Sports and Innovation. Australia views India somewhat in the same way as its sees Europe as a federation of states. It has identified ten key States including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Punjab and NCR. The Report selected West Bengal is it is the fourth most populous state which is prominent in agriculture and mining with a rich hinterland.   Among other issues, Mr. Ford mentioned that Vocational Education and Skill Development, particularly in mining are important for Australia. In recognition of the importance of the 13 states in East and NE India, the Australian Government opened its Consulate General’s office in Kolkata recently. Two Australian companies are currently operating out of Eastern India. Australia has a population of just 27 million. It has the tenth largest GDP in the world and the country is highly ranked in the Ease of Doing Business. Australia has the third highest number of Universities in the Top 100 Universities of the world.

Earlier Mr. Rishabh Kothari, Vice President, MCCI in his welcome address said that India was Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner and fifth-largest export market in 2018-19, driven by coal and international education. Two-way goods and services trade with India was $30.3 billion in 2018-19, and the level of two-way investment was $30.7 billion in 2018. As regards merchandise trade, India has a huge negative trade balance, as exports to Australia stood at $ 3.52 billion in 2018-19 only against our imports of $ 13.13 from Australia. Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at AUD 5.5 billion. Indian students in Australia number almost 110,000 (year to date September 2019), which marks a 33% increase over the previous year. As an education export market, India is second only to China, with exports valued at AUD 12.1 billion in 2018-19 and 246,454 enrolments in Australia. In 2017, the Australian Government commissioned an independent India Economic Strategy (IES) to identify opportunities for Australian businesses in India. According to the ‘India Economic Strategy 2035’ India will be the single largest growth opportunity for Australia in the next 20 years. The IES identifies ten key sectors as best matching Australian competitive advantages with Indian priorities, and ten key Indian states to focus on. Targets include lifting India into Australia’s top three export markets and boosting outward Australian investment to India from AUD 10.3 billion to over AUD 100 billion by 2035.

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