Australia keen to expand trading base in India

Agartala: Australia is trying to expand its trade and business base in India and is keen to establish people-to-people relations in the days ahead, Australian diplomats said here Friday. They also said that gas and natural resources in India’s northeast region could be exploited with Australian expertise.

“Australia is famous for its expertise in gas exploration and its utilisation. Some northeastern states of India, including Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya, have enormous natural resources including gas,” said Chiara Porro, who looks after trade and economics at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.

“The gas and natural resources, found abundantly in northeast India, could be exploited with Australian expertise. The private investors of Australia are also ready to invest more in India,” she said.

Porro, accompanied by Brendan Hodgson, second secretary (political) at the Australian High Commission, is on a visit to Mizoram, Tripura and Assam.

During their tour to the northeastern states, the Australian diplomats are meeting industrialists, investors, heads of public sector undertakings (PSUs), officials and public representatives besides functionaries of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Currently, trade between India and Australia is to the order of $22 billion. It is expected to double in the next few years, they said.

According to the Australian official trade book, India (4 per cent) is Australia’s sixth largest two-way trading partner after China (19.1 per cent), Japan (12 per cent), the US (9 per cent), Korea (5.4 per cent) and Britain (4.1 per cent).

“Currently, Australian trade and business is concentrated in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and offshore areas. Four big banks of Australia are also operating in India,” Porro said.

Hodgson said Australia had evolved a transparent policy to extend all possible support to genuine foreign students, including those from India, studying in that country. “After some incidents involving Indian students in Australia, the number of Indian learners had slightly declined earlier, but it is gradually increasing again.”

Hodgson said that without people-to-people contact and close relations between India and Australia, trade and economy cannot be expanded.