The new Indian Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come to power promising rapid economic development. This presents a
great opportunity for Australia under the business friendly Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Australian-India relations are strategic, which means it is a multi-faceted relation where economic ties are critical. For the relation to grow further, both countries need to take a proactive approach promoting trade and investment.
The current two-way trade between these two countries stands at approximately $14 billion, which is dominated by Australian exports of coal, gold, copper and other commodities that make up approximately $9 billion. India’s export to Australia is mainly pearls, gems, jewellery and services of approximately $2.4 billion. In comparison, Australia-China two-way trade is approximately $150 billion.
India and Australia must realise the economic potential of the business ties between the two countries and take urgent steps to rectify the situation. Both countries have numerous resources and skills that are complementary. As a priority, the focus needs to be on non-traditional areas.
Both countries need to prioritise the following areas:
Agriculture and distribution system: The Indian economy relies heavily on agriculture to boost economic growth. But India’s distribution infrastructure and system needs to keep up with the nature of the demand today. Australia has the expertise in these fields and it presents a big opportunity.
Infrastructure and clean technology: India has a gaping hole to fill in its infrastructure needs in the areas of rail, road, ports, power, energy and clean technology. Australia is obviously at the forefront to explore this potential.
Professional services and free flow of capital: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could facilitate free flow of goods, services, capital and human resources. The sooner the FTA is settled and implemented, the better it is for bilateral relations.
In this 4context, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) can play a pivotal role. There are more than 200,000 Indian Chartered Accountants (ICAs) who occupy key positions in the businesses in India and there are thousands more working in corporate Australia. They could influence the decision-making process in both countries. ICAI has on-the-ground facilities in numerous places in both countries, and these facilities can play an equally important role to fill up this gap.
Raman Bhalla is the Vice Chairman, Australian Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
Published in Indian magazine, Sydney