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What could happen to Australia-India economic relations under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ?

The new Indian Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come to the power on the promise of rapid economic development of India. This presents a great opportunity for Australia under the business friendly Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian India relations are strategic which means it is multi-facet relations where economic ties are critical. For the relations to grow further, both countries need to take proactive approach with regards to the promotion of business with each other.

The current two-way between these two countries trade stands at approximately $14 billion which is highly dominant with Australian exports of coal, gold, copper and other Commodities of approximately $9 billion. The India’s export to Australia is mainly pearls, gems, jewellery and services of approximately $2.4 billion. In comparison, the Australian China’s two-way trade is approximately $150 billion.

For Australia- India must realise the economic potential of its business ties and take urgent steps to rectify the situation. Both countries have numerous resources and skills which are complementary to each other. As a priority, the focus needs to be on non-traditional areas.

Both countries need to prioritise on the following area of high growth:

Agriculture and distribution system: Indian economy relies heavily on its agriculture to boost its economic growth. There is a lack of efficient distribution system. Australia has the expertise in these fields and it presents a big opportunity to offer.

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 is at the fore front 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 upon, it is good for bilateral relations.

In this backdrop, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (“ICAI”) can play a pivotal role to achieve the ambitious goals. There are more than 200,000 Indian Chartered Accountants (“ICAs) who occupy key positions in the businesses in India and there are thousands more who are settled in Australia who play important role in business sector in Australia. They could influence the decision making in both countries with regards to the investment and the trade. ICAI has on the ground facilities in numerous places in both countries which can play an equally important role to aggressively fill up this gap.

The writer  Raman Bhalla is  CPA (Aus), CIMA (UK), CA (Ind), Bcom (Ind)  and Vice Chairman, Australian Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

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