India, Australia seek industry role to boost strategic tie-up


New Delhi, March 9

With the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) signed between the India and Australia positioned as a transformative agreement, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal are looking to unlock the next level of potential in trade and investment with India underlining the need to reset the current goal of doubling the bilateral trade by Indian and Australian industries and CEOs who participated in the India-Australia CEO forum in Mumbai on Thursday. Satisfied at the progress of bilateral engagements, the Indian and Australian leadership are keen for businesses on both sides to explore emerging economic and investment opportunities as part of their commitment to further deepen and strengthen the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit.

Albanese is optimistic about the complementarities between both the nations and this juncture in the bilateral relations, which he described as “a turning point in accelerating economic co-operation and mutual benefits in the relationship between Australia and India,” during his address to the CEO Forum. The Forum comes at a time when both nations are working to leverage the ever-growing trade and investment between the two countries partners as reflected in a large turnout of Australian investors that came to India as well as participation of CEOs of leading Indian companies.

As of fiscal year 2022, India is Australia’s 9th largest trading partner with major exports to Australia including petroleum products, textiles and apparels, engineering goods, leather, pearls, mechanical appliances, iron and steel and gems and jewellery and major imports of edibles, dyeing extracts, chemicals, wool, minerals and precious stones. The USD 2.5 billion worth trade has already benefitted from the lower tariffs arising from ECTA agreement in January 2023 and has raised expectations of more growth as CEOs, ranging from industries like metals and mining, telecom, food processing, pharmaceutical, healthcare, medical devices, auto to sectors like education, banking, aviation, education and IT alongwith institutional investors, brainstorm on ways to enhance economic, trade and investment relations between India and Australia.

Goyal who visited Australia in April 2022, recounted an example of his interaction with the CEO of Cochlear, the Australian hearing implant manufacturer, whose current market share in India, according to the Commerce Minister was only a minuscule of the potential for the business, given India’s population, rapid growth in middle class and the growing demands of the overall economy for a better lifestyle. The ECTA also looks set to increase export volumes for Australian citrus exporter, Nutrano which already exports multiple containers per year of counter-seasonal mandarins to India. With lower tariffs, the company is looking at bigger shipments and a whole new distribution strategy, according to Mathew Roberts, Export Manager for Nutrano. Tariff reductions mean the company will be able to sell the citrus at more affordable prices and move more volume into the Indian market.

In another step towards furthering the business relationship between the two countries. a four-year extension Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between Australia’s industry association, the Business Council of Australia and CII following their MoU in April 2022, shortly after the signing of the ECTA. The BCA and the CII are expected to play an important role in deepening the economic relationship with management and coordination of the India-Australia CEO Forum as well as the Business Champions Group. The MoU was signed by Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII and Jennifer Westacott, CEO Business Council of Australia.

The Forum which is an initiative of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) saw the presence of Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell, the MD & CEO of Mahindra Group Anish Shah, MD & CEO of Macquarie Group Shemara Wikramnayake, MP and Minister of Resources and North Australia Madeleine King, High Commissioner of India to Australia Manpreet Vohra and Barry O’ Farrell, High Commissioner of Australia to India.