A visit to the “Silicon Valley of India” and the commercial engine of the nation Mumbai are planned for Trade and Investment Minister Nick Champion’s upcoming mission to the country.
The trip coincides with 76 years since diplomatic relationships between India and Australia began and is one year on from the signing of the Australia-India Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) – a major diplomatic coup for both countries that unlocked import and export opportunities on both sides.
Champion will be the second state trade minister to visit India since the agreement came into effect, and he’s using the opportunity to spruik South Australian products and services.
Speaking to InDaily, Champion said the trip came at a time of “accelerating economic and diplomatic ties with India”.
“We’ve been big winners out of that because we’re really seen the economic gains – particularly for agriculture; lentils and lobsters in particular,” he said.
“It’s a huge market and a really important economic and diplomatic relationship, so it’s an important time to visit.”
He will be promoting a few sectors the government believes “can flourish”, such as e-commerce, IT, defence, space, education and wine.
India is important to the SA economy – it is the fifth largest goods export market for the state and its 12th largest source of imports. According to the state government, SA exported $1.1 billion worth of merchandise to India last financial year.
SA is also a major beneficiary of direct investment, with $2.9 billion believed to have been invested in businesses here since 2004 with 284 jobs created as a result, making India the fourth largest source of foreign direct investment in the state.
Indians also make up the state’s largest cohort of international students. Student enrolments from India for the first half of 2023 sit at nearly 12,000 according to the government – up 39 per cent on 2022.
To capitalise on this opportunity, the Champion will host an international education event in Mumbai.
“Often we find that many students opt to stay and create their own businesses in South Australia or they become part of the workforce here,” Champion said.
“There’s some very critical outcomes for international education for our universities and there’s some very important people-to-people relationships that come out of it as well.
“Adelaide is really the perfect city for Indian students. It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s got a great cricket oval – the cultural links and similarities should not be underestimated – so it’s a very easy fit for Indian students.”
Champion will also be sniffing out new opportunities for SA’s winemakers. Since the loss of the Chinese market which led to a major dip in exports of our top drops, producers have been looking to other countries for export opportunities.
India is one such prospect according to Champion, who will attend ProWine Mumbai where South Australian wineries will showcase their products as part of the Australia pavilion.
The SA government has high hopes for India as a key export market for wine, with consumption in the market anticipated to reach 55.5 million litres annually by 2025.
Champion told InDaily that SA was at the “very beginnings” of developing ties with India for winemakers.
“The name of the game in wine is diversification,” he said.
“I think the lesson of the last 20 or 30 years in wine is that you will have these very big spikes in particular markets, and the best defence on over-reliance on any market is to have diversification.
“What we’re trying to do through our Wine Ambassador Club and through these international missions is to develop some markets that are diversified so we’re not reliant on one singular market for our wine exports.”
Developing business links in the tech, defence and space sectors is another focus of the visit. Champion will meet with Indian investors and some of the country’s largest multinationals to explore opportunities for the state.
The momentum will hopefully continue after his return when SA hosts the first-ever Australian Summit of Horasis which will attract 250 Indian business leaders in Adelaide come November.
He will also visit Bengaluru, the “Silicon Valley of India”. With a population of more than 8 million, the Karnataka capital is considered a tech hub and companies including Accenture, IBM, Infosys, Cognizant and Amazon have offices there.
“What I like to do on my Ministerial visits is trying to look at a number of different sectors so that might inform future trips by the department and future exchanges by industry,” Champion said.
“These trade missions are very much about looking at what’s changed and where we can make progress.
“We always look for outcomes that are cementing existing economic relationships, to promote that and to look to the future about where we can make inroads. The deeper these ties get – people-to-people, business-to-business and country-to-country – the better the trade runs and the higher the economic return to the people of South Australia.”
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