India-Australia widen their economic playground

by Dipen Rughani

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham’s visit to India, along with over 100 businesses, is intended to build an enduring economic relationship with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Highlights:

  • Australia’s India Economic Strategy has set a target for India to become one of Australia’s top three export markets.
  • Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham’s trade mission along with over 100 businesses is to help open new doors for Australian businesses and establish an enduring relationship with India.
  • The AIB-X, which replaced the Australia India Business Week, will play a pivotal role in ensuring the lessons learnt at AIB-X are invested well in moving forward in achieving Australia’s economic relationship goals with India.

International business thrives on three things, the capacity to understand and expand into new markets, the outlook towards building new relations and the potential to make informed choices. Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham’s visit to India, along with over 100 businesses as part of the Australia India Business Exchange (AIB-X), is intended to build an enduring economic relationship with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India, to help open new doors for Australian businesses.

The AIB-X focuses on four priority sectors – education, agribusiness, resources and tourism – and also support initiatives in food and wine, energy, health, financial services, infrastructure, sport, and science and innovation.

Australia’s release of the India Economic Strategy 2035 (IES2035) report in 2018, signifies the urgency and importance with which Australia is looking at India. The strategy has set a target for India to become one of Australia’s top three export markets, to make India the third-largest destination in Asia for Australian outward investment – $100 billion by 2035 – and to bring India into the inner circle of Australia’s strategic partnerships.

The strategy is divided into 10 sectors and 10 states where Australian businesses should be focusing. India will be releasing its reciprocal report, Australia Economic Strategy (AIS) this year. The report is expected to cover opportunities across emerging areas like mining, resources, education, medical and water technologies, space technology, healthtech, and manufacturing, which have major relevance in the future aspirational plans of Indian companies and investments.

Rising aspirations and rising demand for new and better products and services in India provide an invaluable opportunity to Australian capabilities and innovation. Australia recognises India’s changing global, regional and national stature and is committing itself to greater investment in the relationship. The AIB-X replaces the Australia India Business Week (AIBW) and is focused on achieving the goals set in IES2035. The focus sectors of AIB-X are aligned with IES2035 flagship and lead sectors, with respective federal ministers championing their sector as part of the Australian government’s commitment to the strategy. This means support for these initiatives will come directly from the top.

As both countries commit to building on each other’s strengths and priorities, it is equally pertinent to examine the potential significance of the AIB-X, and ensure that the lessons learnt at AIB-X are invested well in moving forward in achieving Australia’s economic relationship goals with India.

  • Australia improves its capability for engaging with India – Business exchanges are an opportunity to gain market insight and forge relationships. However, navigating the complex operating environment in India, and enhance capacities to compete with domestic industries, which involves varied stakeholders and a multitude of organisations and institutions spread out at the federal and state level.
  • Australia’s value proposition is known and understood – Australia, as a strong economic partner for India, depends on its ability to articulate its strengths, areas of alignment, and what it can offer. Australia needs to articulate its value proposition more clearly and persistently, and match that with action.
  • Outcome-oriented AIB-X – The narrative on the success of business missions should be driven by outcomes than the delegation size. It will be meaningful to focus on outcomes and how individual businesses have maximised their returns post visit, along with follow-up visits and activities to advance co-operation, discuss potential future projects, identify business and mutual investment opportunities and reinforce the economic objectives of bilateral co-operation.

The more business connections, the better. AIB-X can emerge as a key commercial diplomacy instrument, a firm internationalisation learning experience driving communication, orientation and readiness with cross-cultural competence, facilitated by a committed political leadership.

The opportunities will not come to Australian businesses, they must be sought out actively and assertively. India’s economic rise presents transformational opportunities. The time is right to engage in a deeper and stronger economic partnership. AIB-X will reveal the ongoing sweeping reforms in India and highlight clear opportunities in key sectors for Australian businesses as well as the necessary foundations for driving greater economic interaction between Australia and India.

Dipen Rughani is the CEO of the Newland Global Group and the former Chairman of the Australia India Business Council.

About the Author: Dipen Rughani