Australia wants India to be its 'Best partner in business'

Written by PTI | Melbourne | Updated: Aug 11 2014, 20:40pm hrs
Julie"A surging Indian economy, Australia as a provider of resources and energy and the services that a dynamic India will require, we are natural partners,"
Describing India as "natural partner", Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that her country was seeking to elevate its status with India to 'Best partner in business' from business partners.

"Australia and India are most certainly 'Partners in Business' but natural partners across the board. The Coalition Government is seeking to elevate Australia to the status of India's 'best partner in business'," Bishop told a gathering of high-profile business leaders and attendees at Australia India Business Council (AIBC) in Sydney recently.

"Sure, we have a healthy trade relationship two-way trade was valued at more than 15 billion dollars last year but we can do better than that. At the end of last year, Indian investment in Australia was about 11 billion dollars but this Government is determined to make it easier for India to investors to invest in this country," she said.

Lauding the AIBC for its commitment to forge and foster ties between the two sides, Bishop said: "one of the common refrains about the bilateral relationship is that it is one of great potential but never quite realized."

However, she said the relationship was now on move which was unstoppable with the two new governments which were both committed to economic reform and open for business.

Bishop said that Australian government was looking forward to the two major meetings between the two Prime Ministers - Tony Abbot and Narendra Modi - later this year.

Abbott is said to visit India next month while Modi is expected to attend G20 meet this November in Brisbane.

"We're going to see our two action men, our two action Prime Ministers together on the world stage very shortly. They both have ambitious infrastructure agendas and with so much in common between our two leaders, we recognise the opportunity to broaden and deepen what is a strong relationship but could be far stronger," Bishop said.

"A surging Indian economy, Australia as a provider of resources and energy and the services that a dynamic India will require, we are natural partners," she said while reiterating that her government was hopingto take the ties with India to a new and higher level.

"While Australia has traditionally defined our place in the world, as the Asia Pacific, this Government now looks west to encompass India as a crucial part of our region," she said.

Bishop is set to visit India to attend the next Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue later this year.

"These high-level contacts and visits just underscores that we recognise that India is not only our neighbour, a major trading partner, a key strategic ally but a friend," Bishop said.

"Australia and India already have a solid base of trust and mutual respect from which we can take this relationship to greater heights. We already work together in the G20, the East Asia Summit and we are the troika along with Indonesia of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

"We are negotiating a closer Economic Partnership Agreement. We hope to conclude a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement to supply Australian uranium for India's energy needs. We have closer defence and military co-operation."

She also elaborated on the large presence of Indian diaspora in Australia and said while nearly half a million Australians were of Indian origin and some 10,000 Australians called India home, India was the largest source of skilled migrants.

She said the government's new signature initiative - The New Colombo Plan - is expected to see young Australia to engage with India.

Referring to Indian firm Adani's Mining Company project into developing the Carmichael coal deposit in Queensland, Bishop said, "This project is planned as a 60 million tonne a year mine, which will rank it as one of the largest in the world. Other companies including GVK Hancock, Jindal Steel, Bhushan Steel and Mahindra Aerospace have already discovered the benefits of investing in Australia. And there are good opportunities for further investment in resources, energy, research and technology."

"It's not all one way. Australia invests in India with resource and infrastructure projects of around 10 billion dollars. Australian companies are very keen to partner with Indian companies to take advantage of their local knowledge and reputation, to forge markets in India. BlueScope a name synonymous with the genesis of steel making in Australia is partnering with Tata Steel in what has been called a union of equals," she said.

Australia is also helping to address India's need for food security through Australian expertise in areas such as fodder management and cool chain logistics.

Other dignitaries present during the occasion were New South wales Premier Mike Baird, Indian High Commissioner Biren Nanda and AIBC National Chair Dipen Rughani.