Australia-India CEO Forum which met here on Tuesday focused on identifying opportunities for and removing barriers to greater cooperation and economic partnership between Indian and Australian businesses.
After a meeting of the CEOs and Government officials from both sides, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, joined the meeting and was briefed on the outcomes by the Forum co-chairs, Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group, and Sam Walsh, Chief Executive of the Rio Tinto Group.
There was broad based recognition among the Forum’s membership of the significant complementarities in the strengths of the two countries, and a strong desire to harness these towards substantially enhancing bilateral trade and investment.
The Forum reaffirmed the importance of a high quality, mutually beneficial Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in driving this and called on both Governments to be bold and ambitious in their approach to the CECA, to which all the members expressed strong support.
“We are confident that the respective strengths of our two economies provide a solid base for an ambitious CECA that can deliver new market opportunities, enhance ways to do business, help drive growth, create new jobs and generate greater prosperity for India and Australia. We also welcome the prospect that the CECA outcomes will enable access to cheaper inputs and new technologies, and foster competition, investment and innovation in both countries,” said Sam Walsh.
“We recognise that the resources sector remains central to development in both countries, and that competitively priced stable supplies of Australian minerals and resources contribute to India’s energy security. Cooperation between the two countries through such complementary strengths will enhance two-way investment and timely government approvals in this sector can play a strong role in facilitating this. We welcome our Governments’ commitment to closer cooperation on issues regarding mining, particularly in skills development and innovation, including a joint commitment to supporting the Indian School of Mines in Jharkhand,” said Gautam Adani.
Member CEOs highlighted the importance of investment in generating employment and economic growth.
They welcomed the Indian Government’s introduction of legislation to support a single GST and its increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) caps in the insurance, defence and railways sectors, urging all levels of government to embrace and implement economic and regulatory reforms.
The CEOs also noted significant opportunities for tariff reductions in boosting bilateral trade and investment.
The Forum welcomed the Australian and Indian governments’ commitment to increase cooperation across schooling, higher education and the vocational education sectors.
They also welcomed work regarding mutual recognition of qualification and natural movement of people – to encourage skilled labour mobility between our two countries.
Member CEOs noted that the Indian 2015 Union Budget included commitment to financial inclusion, which the Forum welcomed as an opportunity for mutual cooperation in the development of India’s banking and insurance sectors.
The members agreed for the Forum to meet on a bi-annual basis and looked forward to hold its next meeting in December.