On 17 July 2020 during a first-of-its-kind webinar, distinguished speakers discussed the implications on bilateral business and economy of June’s virtual Australian and Indian Prime Ministers summit, during which nine Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreements were signed, with the unanimous message being ‘the time is ripe now’ for bilateral engagement.
The high-profile panel, organised by Australia India Business Council Ltd (AIBC), the peak body facilitating bi-lateral trade and investment between Australia and India, included High Commissioner of India to Australia, His Excellency Mr Gitesh Sarma; High Commissioner of Australia to India, His Excellency Hon Barry O’Farrell AO; Ambassador Anil Wadhwa; Business Council of Australia CEO, Jennifer Westacott AO; Export Council of Australia Chair, Dianne Tipping; Event Partner Tata Consultancy Services Country Head Australia New Zealand, Vikram Singh; Consul General of India NSW – Manish Gupta; AIBC National Chair Mr Jim Varghese AM; AIBC Chairman Emeritus Neville Roach AO; AIBC National Vice Chair, Sanushka Seomangal; and moderator Sheba Nandkeolyar, Immediate Past National Chair of AIBC, Reference Group Member of IES 2035 and Chair of AIBC Women in Business.
Jennifer Westacott said: “To set the foundations for another three decades of uninterrupted growth in Australia and to lift living standards across the world, a stronger relationship with India will be crucial. We support the comprehensive partnership agreement with India, and we must continue to build on that foundation, getting that right will mean getting the best structures in place. The Business Council looks forward to working with the AIBC to forge a path ahead for our two business communities.”
Dianne Tipping said: “We need to broaden our horizons in exporting. Covid 19 has emphasised a need for global supply chains. With MOUs very strongly aligned, there are huge opportunities in many sectors in India.”
Jim Varghese said: “Today is a milestone in terms of capturing business opportunities among key players in the industry and government. As Minister Simon Birmingham put it – ‘No single market offers more growth opportunity for Australian business than India out to 2035’. I am pleased to announce that a task force will be set up to facilitate and nurture relations, and AIBC will publish a discussion paper highlighting this initiative to fast track opportunities. AIBC’s Digital Exchange Forum will provide valuable benefits to members, partner organisations, stakeholders and additionally now to BCA and ECA after today’s webinar.”
HE High Commissioner Sarma said: “This is a wonderful initiative by AIBC. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) adds new flavour to the bilateral relationship, which is changing from a strategic partnership to a comprehensive and strategic partnership. This means our vision is long-term and cooperation can be in almost any sector. The spirit of the relationship is captured in the CSP. Indeed, the environment has changed in India and opportunities are immense. Working together, partnering and upscaling will boost our economic engagement. India is ready for such cooperation. That is the spirit of the virtual summit.”
HE High Commissioner O’Farrell said: “The CSP covers all important sectors. All the MOUs are enabling mechanisms and deepen our mutual economic interests. I consider MOUs on critical minerals, water and vocational education and training are particularly important.”
Ambassador Wadhwa said: “The Australia Economic Strategy is being revised due to Covid and there are key opportunities for Australian companies engaging with India in 20 areas including minerals,
mining, energy, defense, space, shipbuilding, vocational training, cyber security, infrastructure, online education technology, water resources, large scale supply chains, sports, technology, and textiles.”
Vikram Singh said: “IT is a key enabler and major differentiator in today’s challenging times. It will accelerate innovation for business growth and social good and empowers greater access, equity, and inclusion in society. The trends for the future are self-reliance in manufacturing and supply chain distribution, focus on digitisation and rebooting sustainability. TCS has also invested in Australia in cyber security, data driven analytics, research and innovation and is looking forward to broadening further areas of collaboration.”
Neville Roach said “The sun has risen. I urge businesses to take advantage of this time and do something. People to people communication often results in strong commitments. I appeal to Business Council of Australia members to consider spending more time in India, which will make big difference to the bilateral trade.”
Consul General Gupta urged attendees to take the relationship forward by engaging with bilateral businesses in key sectors through trade programs like Access India by NSW Government.
AIBC National Vice Chair, Sanushka Seomangal said: ‘The panel discussions were very engaging. There is so much traction now. AIBC will lead and facilitate bilateral engagements.
In conclusion Sheba Nandkeolyar said: “The time is ripe, and the time is now. There is strong, positive momentum in the bilateral relationship. The two Prime Ministers have set the agenda and it is heartening to see AIBC as well as government and industry stakeholders coming together at this webinar to bring to life the agenda going forward.”