President Ram Nath Kovind at the Anzac Memorial, Sydney
President Ram Nath Kovind at the Anzac Memorial, Sydney

President Kovind's visit to give impetus to Australia-India business ties

ANI | Updated: Nov 21, 2018 21:09 IST

Sydney [Australia], Nov 21 (ANI): The first ever visit by an Indian President to Australia from November 21 to 23 is expected to bolster business ties between the two countries.
On the second day of his three-day visit to Australia on Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind will participate in the Australian Financial review business summit following which he will head to the Australia-India business council meet.
President Kovind's participation at both these events is a signal to business leaders of both countries that the Indian government is looking to forge new partnerships and open up bottlenecks to increase trade and commerce between the two countries. India is Australia's 5th largest trading partner, with bilateral trade in goods and services at approximately USD 20 billion while Australia's investment in India stands at USD 10.4 billion.
Former Australian diplomat Peter Varghese recently released a report on how Australia could forge closer economic and security ties with India. The report sets targets for Australian exports and outward investment to India, to triple and increase tenfold by 2035. This report is certain to come up for discussion at the two business events that the Indian president will be attending on Thursday.
Varghese identified 10 sectors and 10 key Indian states that Australia should focus on in the next two decades. The sectors are education, agriculture, energy, resources, tourism, healthcare, financial services, infrastructure, science and innovation, and sport.
Australia and India are discussing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which is expected to provide greater market access to exporters. In the year 2015-16 the total value of trade between Australia and India was AUD19.4 billion, a significant increase over the preceding decade, yet not optimum levels say business leaders.
During his recent visit to India, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed that CECA was on the agenda and both countries remain committed to delivering on it. However, there has been no movement towards a free trade agreement between Australia and India despite several high profile visits by leaders of both countries and strategic cooperation in defence and security matters.
With Australia now having a new Prime Minister in charge, it remains to be seen whether he walks the same path as Turnbull on being buoyant on India. Just last week on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned Prime Minister Modi to rein in the Indian government's sugar subsidies or be reported to the World Trade Organisation.
Many business leaders and community stalwarts participating in Thursday's events are hoping that Prime Minister Morrison's aggressive stance is just a one-off thing and that his government would encourage more participation and investment linkages. (ANI)