Nearly 400,000 people in Australia are Indian or come from an Indian background, with India the leading country of origin for immigrants to Australia in 2014-15.
Indian mining giant Adani is waiting on the final go-ahead for its $22 billion Carmichael mine project — though not without controversy — while the Australian Government is trying to forge a free trade deal with India.
With all the various business dealings between Australia and India, it’s easy to accept the two countries’ close bond is just the way things are.
But why is India so interested in Australia?
And, with India’s GDP set to grow from $US7 trillion to $38 trillion by 2040, why is Australia uniquely placed to cater for its requirements?
Australia a ‘benchmark’ for mining industry practices
Susil Kumar is the head of mining supplies company CUMI Australia, the Australian subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Carborundum International, which has operated in Australia for 14 years.
He was in Mackay this week attending the national energy and resources forum, a conference connecting Indian business leaders with their Australian counterparts.
Mr Kumar said Australia’s sophisticated understanding of mining technology made it the company’s first choice when looking to expand worldwide.
“For us it was important to sell a high-tech product like what we manufacture back in India to expand our market reach,” he said.
“And what we found was Australia was a fairly matured market, which understands high-tech products, and the industry procedures standards was quite amenable to the product … hence Australia was the first choice for us to put up the subsidiary in this country.”
He said Australia’s resource-rich environment was important, but it was its sophisticated industry practices that separated it from other countries.
“What we found in Australia was equally they are rich in mineral resources but it was also their understanding of technology and their current industry practices was quite attractive for our company to come here,” he said.
“Australia is a benchmark for mining industry practices, safety, if you look at the broad spectrum of the industry we definitely are a benchmark to look at.”
It’s not just about coal
The executive director of business development at the Australia India Institute Jim Varghese said India was estimated to become the world’s fifth largest consumer market by 2025.
“There is a rising middle class with 800 million below the age of 35, that’s a young-ish population,” he said.
“Therefore you have increasing demand for infrastructure, power, water, roads, and here of course are the business opportunities for Australia.
“It’s also in Australia’s strategic interest to have India to grow and to grow with India just as it grew with China 12 years ago.
“It’s in our interest to have two strong super-economic powers.”
He said Australian coal was still a “hot issue” but there was “massive potential” in other fields for Indian investment.
“The reality is that coal is still going to be needed for a long time to come,” Mr Varghese said.
“Education is a huge market for us — in higher ed, in VET, in aged care, if there’s a free trade agreement agriculture will boom even further, science, technology … also defence will be an area of increasing cooperation.”
India-Australia relationship unique
Queensland president of the Australia India Business Council Nik Senapati said while India was an international economy and in talks with many other countries, its relationship with Australia was unique.
“Australia is in the unique position where it has a large land mass with a small population … while India has a smaller land mass and a huge population,” he said.
“Also Australia has the expertise, particularly in the mining sector, which is unique to Australia.
“It’s a world leader in technology and skills in the mining sector, and that’s why India is looking to Australia.”
Online Source: abc.net.au