A free-trade agreement will help strengthen bilateral economic ties

Written by Neha Pal | Neha Pal | Updated: Jun 27 2010, 04:57am hrs
Michael Carter, trade commissioner at the Australia Trade Commission, in an interview with FEs Neha Pal, talks about investment opportunities in India and Australia and his plans of working closely with India to realise the potential for two-way trade and strategic partnerships between the two countries. Excerpts :

What are the development opportunities in Australia What was your investment in India last year

Australia can be the ideal investment destination for Indian organisations seeking international expansion in order to secure access to natural resources like coal, gas and mineral deposits. In 2009-10, the Australian trade commission facilitated investments of around A$ 700-million from India into Australia.

Are you planning to expand the met coke production capacity in India with the help of Gujarat NRE

Gujarat NRE is the only Indian company with coking coal mines in Australiahaving more than 560 million tonne of metallurgical coal resource. The coal mines are owned through its subsidiaryGujarat NRE Coking Coal Limitedwhich is listed in the Australian stock exchange. Our plan is to expand the met coke production capacity in India to 4 million tonne per annum (mpta) from the current level of 1.25 mpta, as well as commensurate increase in production of coking coal from our Australian mines to 6 mpta from the 1.2 mpta.

What are the kind of tie-ups that you are looking at

With Delhi hosting high-profile events in the near futurestarting with the Commonwealth Games in October and the Cricket World Cup in 2011Australia can bring its expertise in sports training and look for possible tie-ups.

What are the initiatives that you are taking to spread awareness about trading with Australia among Indian investors

We are organising a series of conferences in different parts of India, including major cities like Delhi and the NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur, Hyderabad and showcasing potential business and investment oppurtunities with Australia in sourcing Australian technology, products and servicesall potential joint partnerships.

Which areas are you focusing on in terms of promoting your trade with India

Some of the focus areas that we are highlighting are Australian expertise in food and beverage, agribusiness, education, hospitality, infrastructure, building and construction, health and financial services.

What do you think are the hurdles faced in Australia-India trade relations

Though the bilateral trade has reached $13 billion in 2008-09, with an annual growth of 25%, trade barriers still hamper growth. The free -trade agreement, which is being negotiated between the two countries, is going to be a fundamental force to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries.