Growing economic cooperation creates opportunities for India and Australia

India is the world’s fifth largest economy, a technology superpower with the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world; and a shared interest with Australia in advancing a prosperous and stable Indo-Pacific.

Recent economic agreements between the two countries are creating amazing two-way opportunities – as a launching pad for Indian-led businesses to take flight and, conversely, for Australian innovators to tap into one of the world’s fastest-growing markets. It’s a market that over the next 20 years will need many of Australia's world-leading goods and services – including agriculture, critical minerals, technology, education and skills training, and healthcare – to help drive sustained growth.

Once in force, the Australia India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) – signed in April 2022 – will help Australian and Indian businesses to expand operations in each other’s markets.

It follows the elevation of the Australia-India relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020. This included an agreement to encourage expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both economies; and identified areas for mutual cooperation including cyber, science and technology, and critical minerals.

In a message on Indian Independence Day in August this year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he remained “strongly committed to deepening our partnership in the spirit of respect, friendship and cooperation”.

“As Comprehensive Strategic Partners, Australia and India are committed to growing bilateral cooperation. This year's Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement will further support opportunities for mutual growth and prosperity," he says in the statement.

An Indian national flag in miniature shopping trolley with a world map in the background

Already a raft of Indian-led companies and entrepreneurs have heeded the message that Australia is open for business and are leveraging the expertise and benefits on offer to test their products and launch into new markets. In 2021, investment from India into Australia totalled around A$28 billion, a steep rise from A$16 billion in 2019. This includes A$280 million in Foreign Direct Investment.

Evidence of the close business ties between both countries is on display at two key industry events in India this week – the Bengaluru Tech Summit (BTS) and the International Mining and Machinery Exhibition (IMME) in Kolkata.

Both have attracted a strong Australian presence, with more than 30 Australian tech companies – including giants like Atlassian – attending the BTS and more than 40 Australian organisations in the mining equipment, technology and services space taking part in IMME 2022. Australia is also the only partner country at IMME.

As well as providing insights from leading Indian counterparts, these events give Australia the chance to showcase local heroes and the country’s R&D advances in the technology and mining spheres, plus promote the opportunities in Australia for Indian businesses and entrepreneurs who want to expand their global footprint.

It follows a series of Australian Government-led visits arranged by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), including a delegation to Australia of major Indian agtech businesses in June and a business mission to India in September across the education, agrifood, urban infrastructure, critical minerals, and digital health sectors. The missions are part of the Australian Government’s dedicated program, the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX), to grow two-way commercial relationships between the two countries, and help businesses establish valuable connections and partnerships.

Many entrepreneurs and business leaders have found new opportunities in Australia and relocated permanently. Indians are now the second-biggest immigration population in Australia after Britain, overtaking settlers from China and New Zealand, according to the latest census data.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a point in both of our country’s histories where we’ve had such a strong strategic alignment,” said Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles on a visit to New Delhi this year.

The countries also enjoy strong diplomatic links, as members alongside the United States and Japan of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – commonly known as the Quad – which is committed to supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In October, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong met with India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, for the Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue. “For Australia, our partnership with India is a critical part of shaping the region we want,” said Senator Wong after the meeting. The countries agreed to deepen their bilateral diplomatic ties; with Australia recommitting to opening a Consulate-General in Bengaluru – the centre of India’s high-tech industry – and India’s plans for an additional consulate in Australia. During the meeting, Dr Jaishankar noted that he was the seventh member of India’s cabinet to visit Australia since June. The two countries, he said, were taking their relationship “to higher levels”.

Are you an Indian investor or business looking for new opportunities? Like the sound of a country with a culture of innovation, inclusiveness and collaboration? Find out why Australia could be the ideal destination for you and your business at Global Australia.

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