India: Five tips for successful bilateral trade

There’s never been a better time for West Australian businesses to look at India as a potential business partner.

The south Asian nation has 29 states and more than 1.3 billion people. It’s the second most populous country in the world behind China.

Author Peter Varghese recently outlined 10 sectors and 10 states in the India Economic Strategy to 2035, commissioned by the Federal Government to transform Australia’s economic partnership with India.

He deliberately took this approach, so businesses didn’t have to grapple with the idea that India was a single giant market.

In fact, with such diversity across the business and consumer landscape, companies will be better able to capitalise if they take a market segmented approach.

Assuming you already have a product or service, an export market plan, a long-term vision and commitment, here are some useful insights on how you can start to put India on your International business agenda.

1. Understand why now is timely

Several reasons have emerged as to why businesses should put bilateral trade with India on their list of potential partners. Three of these include:

  • The sheer scale of India’s growth and its hope to upskill 400 million people by 2022 as the leading opportunity, as well as its need for infrastructure, energy, resources, and many other goods and services.
  • The Indian Government has been proactive to make doing business with other nations easier. Foreign investment will be crucial to meeting its growth needs.
  • With uncertain relations between China and the US, India has potential to emerge as a major trading partner and will help spread the corporate risk.

In addition, India is firmly in the WA Government’s sights and has been going to great lengths to endeavour to secure direct flights and boost ties between the two nations. Afterall, the Indian Ocean should bind us not separate us.

Doing your research now and understanding ‘why India’ will give you the edge when those direct flights come to fruition.

2. Do your research

Start by reading the India Economic Strategy to 2035 and keep your eye out for a reciprocal report from the Indian Government, which is underway by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa and expected to be released by the end of the year.

The strategy highlights the education sector as the flagship opportunity with tertiary, vocational and online delivery all crucial to the nation’s bid to upskill its workforce. Indian parents are keen for their children to be educated and Australia has a reputation as one a world class provider of education.

In looking in detail at 10 sectors in 10 states, the report highlights the opportunities as well as the constraints and challenges.

3. Network, network, network

Experts and agencies can give you great insights into how your product or service may be relevant in India so get to know who they are and how they can help.

Our experienced team in International Trade at CCIWA are keen to assist you to develop your India market entry strategy and business matching capabilities. We work in collaboration with our key engagement partners; Austrade and the WA Trade Office in India, as well as the Consulate General of India Perth office and the Australia India Business Council WA office.

By leveraging this broad network through our team, we can assist you to identify the specific market and sectoral opportunities to do business in India. You will meet qualified and valuable contacts and potential partners who know what is happening on the ground, while gaining insights specific to your business model and supply capabilities.

Later, look to visiting India to develop and build those important relationships on the ground.

4. Be clear on what you want to achieve

Having done your research, start to establish clear direction on why your product or service would suit India, based on identifying the trade and consumer market gaps where your product or service has competitive advantage and demand potential.

Doing your research both at home and in India will help you frame your market entry strategy as you reframe your existing business model to match market conditions in India. Adapt and adopt is the key to doing business in incredible India.

5. Beware of expectations and be prepared for challenges

There’s no doubt that doing business in India requires patience, research and dedication in an, at times, changing landscape. No one will tell you it is easy – it’s about being focused and yet adaptable to tailor your product or service offering.

For example, as the economic report outlines, online education will be crucial for the nation’s education future, but the Indian Government’s reforms are slow and the regulators hold outdated views. Meanwhile, there are opportunities for attracting Indian students to WA universities, so always look at it as a two-way street.

Despite the uncertainties, remember that with the growing convergence of trade, investment and education engagement between Australia and India, WA needs to be a key part of that, so find out where your company fits and what it can achieve.

Like Mahatma Gandhi says “you may never know what results come from your actions but if you do nothing there will be no results”.

Michael Carter is the Manager of CCIWA’s International Investment and Trade Centre. 

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