The economic and business cooperation between India and Australia will grow stronger going forward as Australian businesses are keen on expanding to India as a replacement market for China, said Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell.

“China closed its borders to a number of our products though it is still buying iron ore and other things. The big lesson from the Covid period was that Australian businesses felt that they had put everything in one basket. Many of these are now looking for an economic relationship with India as a replacement or an evener. So this is driving more business interest towards India,” he told a select group of journalists of The Hindu Group.

Both countries signed an interim ‘Australia-India Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement’ in April 2022.

O’Farrell said that Australian pension funds are keen to invest in long-term infrastructure projects in India. Australia has the largest pension funds in Asia. They are looking for investments in other countries like India. During his recent visit to Australia, India’s Prime Minister Modi met with asset fund firms and a significant investor.

Contribution to textile sector

He also said that India-Australia FTA would prove to be a win-win deal in the textile sector. “Our country has very little textile manufacturing as Australia is more of a trading nation. However, Australia’s contribution to this segment would be its cotton, which comes with good quality.

It is learned that the Economic Co-operation and Free Trade Agreement with Australia would not only help India sell finished sell garments and finished products in Australia at competitive prices but also benefit the Indian cotton value chain.

“We supply resources and skills in textile segments, but we don’t really compete in manufacturing. We have an economic structure that is complementary, not competitive,” said Sarah Kirlew, Consul General, Australian Consulate General, Chennai.

Indian diaspora

Replying to visa-related issues, O’Farrell said a deal has been made to provide visas up to 1,800 a year for qualified Indian chefs and yoga teachers to come to Australia. “Because with the growing India diaspora and yoga extending around the world beyond the diaspora, there is a need for genuine and trained yoga trainers and high-quality Indian chefs,” he added.

He also pointed out that the India-Australia relationship is increasingly influenced these days by the diaspora, which is energetic and ambitious.