Australian states push for more trade with India

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 02, 2012 04:50 hrs

Melbourne, Nov 2 (IANS) With an announcement of 10-year strategy, South Australia has become the latest Australian state to focus on increasing commercial engagement with India. South Australia plans to focus primarily on the energy, education and environmental services as a part of the ambitious plan.

"States need to more effectively engage with this emerging economic powerhouse and this strategy sets out how we will do that," Premier Jay Weatherill said while unveiling the South Australia - India Engagement strategy at Adelaide University's Centre for Asian Studies Wednesday.

The announcement has come close on the heels of the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiling a much-awaited Asian Century White Paper. The paper aims to take advantage of the burgeoning Asian economic powers and make Australia as one of the top 10 richest countries in the world in the next few decades.

"As the Prime Minister's Australia in the Asian Century white paper outlines, states need to more effectively engage with this emerging economic powerhouse and this strategy sets out how we will do that," Premier Weatherill said.

South Australian announcement could be seen as an extension of the trend where Australian political bigwigs are discovering the potential of trading with India which has a middle-class running into hundreds of millions.

While Jay Weatherill was unveiling 10-year strategy, his counterpart from the most populous Australian state New South Wales, Premier of NSW Barry O'Farrell is in New Delhi these days inking business pacts with various Indian trade and government agencies.

South Australian Premier also intends to position his state in the best place to take advantage of India's rapid economic development. Besides other plans, a South Australia-India Business Council would be established to pilot the state's trade initiatives in the second most populous country in the world. The government funded body would have the leading business experts to chart the strategy.

The South Australian Premier would also be leading a business delegation to India in the near future.

South Australia's Economic Development Board chairman Raymond Spencer said ongoing consultation with Indian state and local governments, businesses and chambers of commerce would ensure the state's relations with the country would be based on present-day conditions.

"The upcoming visit provides a prime opportunity to engage with Indian state and local governments and business people who can offer insight to help strengthen our economic partnership," South Australia's Economic Development Board chairman Raymond Spencer told reporters Wednesday.

"The significance of India for Australia's future is widely recognised in the community, in the schools system and by government," Professor Purnendra Jain, president of the Centre for Asian Studies has been quoted as saying by the Australian media.

"But we want to ensure it is also recognised by our students and we are committed to providing a greater understanding of culture and society," Professor Jain added.

Besides NSW and South Australia, other Australian states are also gearing up to benefit from the trade with India. Premier of the second largest Australian state Victoria was in India few months back with the "largest ever" trade delegation from this southern state.

(Paritosh Parasher can be contacted at

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