In an interview with Deccan Herald, Australian Trade Commissioner for South Asia Michael Moignard advocated increased trade and value addition from Australia to boost bilateral trade levels from USD 8.6 billion. India imports USD 7.4 billion and Indian exports USD 1.2 billion worth.
With a gross domestic product (GDP) is USD 600 billion, Australia has started a Australian Business Forum which Moignard says will be used to better bilateral trade prospects. Australia prides itself as being able to “provide competitive solutions and expertise” in sectors such as mining where it has “mining software systems for explorations, mine management and training.” Canberra claims to be a leader in “minerals industry” which it says is one of “the traditional strongholds of business in Rajasthan.” Australia has investments in “financial/banking sectors, IT and mining sectors” in Maharashtra and Karnataka, bio-technology in Andhra Pradesh, and will open an Australian Consulate in Chennai “very soon.”
While Indian businesses and government continues to be pre-occupied with capturing markets in Europe and North America and is ignoring other markets in Asia and Australia. Australia has numerous ideas on how to collaborate with India in “livestock management, agro-industry like crop productivity management, processing, dry land farming, irrigation, water and soil management, and dairy technology and processing” and there are very few ideas from India on what it could do in Australia.
Unfortunately, the interview failed to talk enough about prospects for Indian investment or access to markets in Australia. The only export aspects brought out was industrial marble and handicrafts. Australia continues to host a reclusive visa regime stopping free flow of services and personnel to that nation. While it is very interested and aggressive to sell its wares, it has non-monetary hurdles for Indian businesses. Australia also has one of the largest deposits of uranium but continues to oppose India’s civilian nuclear deal with the US.