Seeking enhanced economic engagement with India,Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today said the two countries have set a goal of doubling bilateral trade to US$ 40 billion by 2015.
Addressing Indian business leaders here at a luncheon meeting,Gillard said the dramatic changes in Asia are creating new patterns of Indian growth.
India is changing through important economic reforms in areas like energy,aviation and retail,she said.
“We have already set a goal of US$ 40 billion trade in 2015 in other words,our trade could double by 2015,” she said. Currently the annual bilateral trade stood at about US$ 21 billion.
She said Australia has opened the door for uranium sales to India.
“We both have huge energy needs…India’s energy needs are going to increase sharply…there is a good potential for partnership in energy sector,” she said.
Gillard said both the countries have agreed for joint research and development in areas like clean energy,water efficiency and sustainable agriculture.
“In recent years,our economic relationship has grown stronger. Two-way trade has grown at 13 per cent per annum in the past five years. Indian investment approvals in Australia grew last year alone to over US$ 11 billion. This is a one hundred fold increase from ten years ago,” she added.
Speaking on the occasion,Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma invited investments in infrastructure sector,particularly,in the proposed national investment and manufacturing zones (NMIZs).
“This process (of setting up NMIZS) is on. Come and join us at least in setting up of these zones,” he said. Ficci President R V Kanoria said there is a need to increase air connectivity between the two countries.
On increasing engagement in education sector,the Australian Prime Minister said Indians are the fastest growing group of new migrants to Australia.
“Australian universities and training providers are an invaluable source of education for Indian students,who are the second largest group of international students in our country. But there are important gains for both our nations if we broaden these links,” Gillard said.
She said India’s share of output from agriculture has fallen and the share of services sector has risen.
“This reflects not just the development of new information and communications technologies,but the integration of these services into global value chains. The growth of knowledge and its application have never been more important,” she added.
Citing example of TATA’s Swach,a benchtop water filter,Gillard said India has a genius for opening up new markets and meeting people’s needs through “frugal innovation”.
The Swach is an innovation based on advanced knowledge,using the properties of nanoparticles of silver.
“In a nation where two million people die every year from drinking contaminated water,this is a lifesaving device,” she added.
Gillard said both the countries can collaborate in sectors like transport,logistics,mining,environmental services,medical research,food science,education and
The Prime Minister said Australian firms are globally recognised in these sectors.
“So the next stage of our partnership should focus on areas of collaboration which build on these respective strengths and which encourage innovation and specialisation in our economies,” she said.
In education sector,she said today 32 Australian universities take part in 380 active collaborations with 250 Indian institutions.
She said this ranged from academic co-operation and joint research to encouraging student and staff mobility and recognising course credits between institutions.
“A commitment to education,research and innovation should be at the heart of our economic and social ties indeed our Australia-India Strategic Research Fund is another important example of this,” she added.
Gillard said leadership and collaboration among the business communities of India and Australia is vital to boost partnership between the countries.
“To make the most of all this broadening of economic ties,we must truly be makers and shapers of change. Australia has changed in determining to export uranium to India. India is changing through important economic reforms in areas like energy,aviation and retail,” Gillard said.
Gillard said that economic and social progress also depended on security and stability through a period of rapid and far-reaching changes.
“In practice we see common security interests in what is increasingly described as the Indo-Pacific region. We both want security of maritime routes. And we both seek to build habits of cooperation and trust across our region,in particular through the East Asia Summit,” Gillard said.
Further,she said Australia is committed to cooperate in counter terrorism.
“We each remain undaunted in the face of international terrorism and determined to defeat it. Our defence and security interaction has been stepped up in recent years and we should look to increase them further,” she said. “In time,this could include more regular and combined talks at ministerial level,and stronger co-operation between our defence Forces,including full naval exercises,” she added.
Gillard said Australia strongly argued for the G20 to replace the G8 as the pre-eminent international economic forum.
“When Australia hosts the G20 Summit in 2014,we plan to do that in close cooperation with India… And India and Australia have pressed for reform of the IMF and World Bank so that they better represent today¿s world,” the Prime Minister
Further,she said global economic and strategic weight is shifting eastwards which is driven by the rapid modernisation of Asian nations,by economic dynamism and by population growth.
“By 2025,four of the top 10 economies in the world will be in Asia. Asia is becoming the world¿s largest consumer market. For Australia,we are in the right part of the world at the right time,” Gillard said.
She said India is home to an emerging middle class that will shape social change and global markets in the decades to come.