Opportunities for bilateral trade between WA and India abound, businesses were told at a seminar featuring Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu and Austrade South Asia Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Leonie Muldoon held at CCI on September 13.
It was the final stop on the diplomats’ Australian roadshow to highlight the opportunities outlined in the recently released report to the Australian Government by Peter Varghese, Navigating from potential to delivery, An India Economic Strategy to 2035.
Sidhu told more than 100 people from businesses, government and industry that Australia recognised the potential for the enormous market opportunities over the next 20 years with India, which is set to become the world’s third largest economy and overtake China as being the most populous nation.
She said the opportunities were not going to be “another flash in the pan”, despite the report stating that ‘Australian businesses have long put India in the too hard basket’ as there was a clear economic reform process underway driven by the Indian Government and an ‘aspiration and young population that did not want to be a third world country’.
Sidhu said the Indian Government’s adoption of GST had also brought transparency to business transactions and the ability to start raising tax revenue as well harmonising tax rates across its 29 states.
The economic strategy was a manual on how to tackle the Indian economy and looked at 10 key sector and 10 key states: “India offers huge opportunity for Australia but also enormous opportunity for WA. There are significant benefits to accessing a very large rapidly growing market,” she said.
“It’s growing at 6.8 per cent per year every year.”
Muldoon, who has is responsible for developing trade, investment and education links between Australia and South Asia, affirmed that India was no longer in the too hard basket for bilateral relations.
However, she warned businesses to consider price sensitivity and the differences in business culture as the two biggest risks to exporting.
“I’ve worked in lots of markets globally and in most places if you have a rare product you can modify your product to suit the market … it’s particularly true in north Asia,” she said.
“Pivot to India and you need to put your product or service to one side and look exclusively at the market and ask, “what does it need, what does it want and what will it pay for”. When you work that out you can look back at your product and its unique selling proposition but you must start with the market. It operates entirely on its own terms.
“India is awash with opportunity and it has some challenges, so success requires a clear understanding of the business environment and a real probing of differences in business culture.”
Direct flights will unlock markets, tourism
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, who has been pursuing direct flights between Australia and India, said WA was preparing “multi-million dollar packages over several years” to put to the six airlines he and a WA delegation met with in India recently to entice direct flights.
“Tourism industries have spent zero dollars on selling this state. When we went there the only thing they know about us that we have a bouncy wicket at the WACA. And we’re not even using the WACA anymore,” he said.
“Air India is flying to Melbourne and Sydney. We were told by Air India and the Minister that they were some of the highest performing routes that they have anywhere in the world, so they view Australia … as a very attractive potential market.
“We are making the case that they shouldn’t just be looking at the east coast they should be looking at the west because we have the proximity and a big population.
“We are only 2.5 hours in time zone difference, the best of any in Australia state. Beyond that, one of our greatest assets is our Indian born WA population. We have 50,000 Indian born and another 20,000 who can trace their ancestry to India.”
The event was organised by CCI in partnership with Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and the Australia India Business Council.
► Find out more about trade and investment opportunities by contacting the experts at CCI’s International Trade and Investment Centre. Discounts available for CCI Members. Call (08) 9365 7620 or visit here.