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Australian High Commissioner bats for stronger India-Australia ties

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on June 11, 2020 Published on June 11, 2020

Barry O’Farrell, Australian High Commissioner to India   -  Twitter via Barry O’Farrell AO (@AusHCIndia)

Barry O’Farrell, the Australian High Commissioner to India, on Thursday said there are plenty of trade and investment opportunities between the two countries, and Australia can be a major partner for India in international trade as well as a support for India’s domestic reforms and ambitions to strengthen its manufacturing sector.

He was speaking at a webinar titled ‘AUSTRALIA - Trade & Investment Opportunities - 2020 and Beyond’ organised by the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held the first-ever ‘virtual’ bilateral summit, which saw the relationship between the two countries elevating to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’.

The summit also saw the signing of a long-pending ‘Mutual Logistics Support’ agreement, paving the way for greater defence cooperation between the countries.

“The summit reaffirmed our defence and security ties, which is the cornerstone of the Australia-India relationship,” O’Farrell said, adding, “As part of the summit, Australia and India signed off a number of MoUs that can contribute to building our economic relationship.”

During the bilateral summit, the two countries made several announcements and signed a number of pacts, including declaration of a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, framework arrangement on cyber and cybeo-enabled critical technology cooperation.

The two countries also signed several MoUs, including cooperation in the field of mining and processing of critical and strategic minerals, public administration and governance reforms, and water resources management.

Opportunities for cooperation

“For instance, with a MoU on mining and processing critical and strategic minerals, Australia can contribute to India’s ambitions of building an electric batteries and electric vehicles industry. It’s just one opportunity that is flourishing, but there are many more like that,” he added.

“The other area where both the countries have a lot to share is water resources, given that both of us have diverse climate and water constraints,” the High Commissioner said.

He also added that science and medical research and cooperation has become even more important in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“That’s why, last week, an additional phase of Australia-India Strategic Research Fund has been set aside to provide solutions to respond in treating Covid-19,” O’Farrell said.

Trade and investment

Highlighting that Australia has a sophisticated financial market which deals with major international currencies, the High Commissioner said, the country also has the largest pool of funds under management across Asia.

Australia’s cumulative investment in India is about $10.74 billion as against India’s total investment in Australia is $10.45 billion. The Australian Super Pension Fund has invested $1 billion in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

Australia has a huge diaspora of Indian students, and considers education as a flagship sector for mutual cooperation and agribusiness, resources and tourism as lead sectors.

O’Farrell also said energy, health, financial services, infrastructure, sport, science and innovation are the six promising sectors for bilateral trade and expressed optimism that future trade and investment in these areas will flourish.

The webinar also saw trade and investment commissioners of several Australian states, highlighting the trade and investment opportunities available.

In 2018-2019, the trade between India and Australia stood at around $21 billion. The nations are further looking to expand investments and trade with each other.

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Published on June 11, 2020
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