Australia looks to invest in India’s infrastructure growth

April 14th, 2008 - 2:48 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of KPMG
By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, April 14 (IANS) As India makes infrastructure growth a top national priority, Australian businesses are being urged to seize opportunities in the infrastructure and resources sectors “worth over Australian $50 billion ($46 billion)”. A new report compiled for Austrade (The Australian Trade Commission) by KPMG India identifies key resource and infrastructure developments and projects in India.

KPMG Australia’s India Business Practice National Leader Kumar Parakala said there are immediate opportunities that Australian companies can target in the next year worth over $50 billion.

Parkala said: “Australian companies need to move fast to compete with companies from the UK, US and Spain. Opportunities are emerging in the power sector in coal and alternative energy; the transport sector in roads, ports, airports and railways, construction, EPC contractors, equipment and services.”

A number of Australian infrastructure and resources firms are already doing business in India. They include Arrow Energy (India) Pvt Ltd, Australian Road Research Bureau, BHP Billiton India, Daryl Jackson Architecture, Hydro Tasmania, Leighton India, Micromine Pvt Ltd, Tata BlueScope Steel Ltd and Thiess India Pvt Ltd.

Said Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner (South Asia) Mike Moignard: “Operating in a market of this size is not without challenges, but it’s a market in which Australian innovation and expertise will find exciting new avenues for business success.”

The Australian Labour government has reiterated its commitment to raise the trade and economic relationship with India to a “new level” as senior Australian officials arrive in New Delhi later Monday to discuss the terms of reference for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) feasibility study.

A key focus of the study, expected to be completed by early 2009, will be tariff liberalisation and the removal of other impediments to the trade in goods.

Said Australian Minister for Trade Simon Crean: “The study will consider how an FTA might help take the economic partnership to a stronger level.”

He said he was looking forward to discussing these issues with Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath when he leads a business delegation to Australia in May for the Joint Ministerial Commission meetings.

At the Melbourne Business School’s recent Critical Issues Conference on the impact of China and India on Australian business and trade, Crean said: “Reflecting our joint interests, Australia has played a leading role in building support for a WTO signalling conference on services - progressing an area of key importance to both Australia and India in the Doha Round - international services trade reform.

“In my judgement, the Doha Round is doable and we’re closer now to a successful conclusion than at any point previously in the negotiations.”

Australia is the leader of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters while India is a member of the G20 and the G33 groupings at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Crean said: “We are working closely with India and China to improve the environment for international agriculture by cooperating to reduce subsidies that distort international markets”.

Australia and India were founding members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and are part of the WTO. At the regional level, both are members of the Asean plus 6 forum and the Kevin Rudd government has been a strong supporter of India’s membership of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Crean, who visited India in January as part of his first major overseas visit, said: “I was a strong proponent of this while in opposition and will do what I can in coming years to make this happen.”

The total trade between Australia and India has been growing by over 30 percent annually. India is now Australia’s ninth largest trading partner and Australia is India’s 10th largest trading partner. Two-way trade in goods totalled over $10.7 billion in 2007.

India is Australia’s fastest growing major export market, becoming the sixth largest export market, with commodities such as coal, gold, copper ores and wool representing key exports.

Two-way trade in services has been thriving, particularly in education, tourism, financial services, engineering, accountancy, telecommunications and legal services.

Adding value is the recent cooperation agreement signed between the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), Australia’s export credit agency, and its Indian counterpart, the Export-Import Bank of India, to help promote trade and investment deals involving Australian and Indian firms.

Crean said: “New prospects are emerging in sectors such as IT, biotechnology, health, film and insurance. Australia’s competition watchdog is exploring an exchange programme with New Delhi to boost competition, law and enforcement.”

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