Hon. Steven Ciobo Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the Minister for Trade and Investment, Australia on his first visit to India said that his country is committed to delivering the comprehensive economic trade treaty, or the Free Trade Agreement.
“Australia is convinced the bilateral relations have can grow in significant amounts and Free Trade Agreement is a critical element in the strategic relations between our two countries. We will deliver this commitment by the end of 2015,”said Ciobo, adding, Australia’s number one priority is comprehensive economic agreement.” He elaborated on the need for free trade, which is crucial for the Asian countries and their ties with Australia. “I believe the deadline with India can be met. Last 14 months my country has signed high quality free trade agreements with China, Korea and Japan. Australia believes in liberalized trade and free trade agreement we will pursue strongly,” said Ciobo.
The Australian Parliamentary Secretary spoke at the Indo-Australian Business Summit organized by the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce at World Trade Center Mumbai.
Ciobo highlighted the immense untapped potential of trade between India and Australia. He highlighted the disparity of trade that Australia has with China as compared to India. “The two-way trade between both our countries is worth $15 Billion while with China it is $160 Billion, clearly there is so much more to do and a huge amount of potential that we see,” emphasized Ciobo. The Member Parliament also welcomed the ambitious Smart Cities project announced by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The 100 Smart Cities project is very ambitious but can help growth in India. Australia has good infrastructure and will like to be a part of it,” said Ciobo.
The Parliamentary Secretary explained the investments made by Tata Steel with BlueScope, Aurizon with Indian Railways and the investments in agri sector, which he feels is immense. “Australia is hungry to create and trade more. India can draw on Australia agri-business experts, like we can call on India’s Information Technology (IT) experts,” Ciobo explained. He added, the core sectors that Australia is strong in and can help India with expertise for enhancing their trade is mining, agriculture, medical, education, minerals, infrastructure and dairy.
Ciobo began his speech speaking of the warm ties and the spirit of resilience that connects both India and Australia. He said he led the delegation to lay a wreath at the Hotel Taj Mahal in Mumbai in memory of all the people who lost their lives in the terror attacks on November 26, 2008. “We laid a wreath at the hotel Taj in memory of all those who lost their lives in the terror attacks. We share that common in both the nations. Both have been touched by terrorism and we have resilience, people’s lives were affected but our people are our strength,” said Ciobo.
In his speech Ciobo thanked Rana Kapoor, Founder and CEO, Yes Bank and President, ASSOCHAM for playing the role of a catalyst between the two Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott. Kapoor said India and Australia are natural partners bound by historical linkage. Kapoor said there were a lot of commonalities the two countries share. “India and Australia share a mutual love for cricket and are both multi-cultural countries,” said Kapoor. Kapoor enlisted the sectors for mutual collaborations. “I believe tourism is very strong for both the countries. Besides, the Water waste systems where there is bilateral opportunity and Murray-Darling basin work which can be replicated for Clean Ganga. The one strong collaboration I see is in dairy and Agri-business, which is important for India’s food security,” said Kapoor. While India is a growing economy and will need Australia’s support, Kapoor Australian companies are world leaders but are relatively underexposed.
Vijay Kalantri, Vice Chairman, WTC Mumbai in his opening remarks said this is an opportune moment for Australia to look towards India. Currently, Australian trade with India is only up to $12 billion, there is a huge potential enhancing. “We are pursuing for free trade agreement and we have to work together. The bilateral relations and trade will improve once the Free Trade Agreement is in place. Hopefully the issues will be resolved,” said Kalantri. He added, “The new efforts of our Prime Parliamentary Secretary for Ease of doing business in India, Make in India, and port-led growth tells us that it is an opportune time to invest in India.”
In the welcome address, C Sarat Chandran, Director Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce said the defining moment for Indo-Australian ties was the visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Australia last year.
Harry Laggad, Vice President, Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce gave the vote of thanks.
The event was held at the World Trade Center Mumbai, on June 26, 2015.