India has the potential to increase its goods and services exports to Australia to $15 billion by 2025 and $35 billion by 2035, according to Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, a former senior Indian Foreign Service (IFS) official. He was speaking about the bilateral trade opportunities at a round-table discussion organised by the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce in the city last week.

Bilateral trade in goods and services between Australia and India stood at $23.3 billion in 2018, of which goods accounted for $17.8 billion while services contributed about $5.5 billion.

In a presentation titled, ‘ Economic and Trade potential between India and Australia ’, Ambassador Wadhwa highlighted that India accounted for only 2 per cent of Australia’s total merchandise imports and 2.7 per cent of services imports in 2018.

Plans for India

A distinguished fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), Ambassador Wadhwa was a former secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and Ambassador of India to Italy, Thailand, Oman, Poland, Lithuania and San Marino. He was tasked with the responsibility of authoring “Australia Economic Strategy” (AES), a reciprocal report from the Indian side to “India Economic Strategy 2035” (IES), a report released by the Australian government in 2018 with a target of making India one of Australia’s top three export markets and the third-largest destination in Asia for Australian outward investment.

The IES was expected to be released by Australian PM Scott Morrison during his proposed visit to India in January 2020. However, the Australian PM had to cancel his first official visit due to the bushfire crisis in his country.

Ambassador Wadhwa’s presentation highlights only the key opportunities based on the 300-page report.

‘Where the future lies’

“We looked at the existing sectors on what more could be done and also futuristic sectors, which is something not happening now but where the future lies,” Ambassador Wadhwa said, adding that technology, services and innovation will be the future of this relationship given the nature of this economy at the moment and what is happening in India itself.

Wadhwa said petroleum products, rail equipment, pharmaceutical products and Automobiles are some of the key products in which India can increase its share of exports to Australia.

“India contributes 7 per cent of Australia’s imports of petroleum and mineral oils. India is a major exporter of refined oil and other products like high-speed diesel, aviation turbine fuel, light diesel oil, etc. It can leverage its strengths in this sector to increase its share in Australia’s imports,” the presentation noted.