Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has said that Australia does not have enough of a presence in India. He is calling for investment so that Australian businesses can become more prominent and contribute more to the second-most-populous country.
Offering ‘considerable returns’ for Australia putting capital into the Indian market, Kovind said that more needs done to address the present ‘gap’ and added that economic cooperation is beneficial to both sides.
Kovind spoke in front of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney, where he also addressed the country’s business community. He noted that India and Australia are well in place to collaborate on various projects, including those involving industry, infrastructure, agriculture and space exploration.
The Indian President told his audience that the two countries ‘have too much at stake in each other not to up their game’ and said that the Indian market should be of particular interest for Australian businesses because of the ‘huge customer base and the prospect of considerable returns.’
He added that although Australian businesses do have a presence in his country, more efforts are necessary to make use of the available opportunities.
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Kovind described Australia as ‘the big country and the big friend that we are not seeing as much of in the India investment story.’ Significantly, Kovind was the first head of state from India to ever visit Australia on official business. In the last couple of decades, there has been a notable push from India to liberalize its economy and make the most of its market potential, and businesses are starting to pay more attention.
Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased over the last 15 years, rising from AU$6.54bn in 2003/04 to AU$19.29bn in the 2015/16 financial year. Kovind has called for bilateral trade to grow further and said that Australian super funds should look at putting capital into the developing Indian infrastructure, which would be helpful for both nations. The scale of growth of the Indian population and its burgeoning middle classes means that there is huge scope for building to meet the differing needs of the country and deliver significant returns.
Kovind said that he is confident of this happening sooner rather than later. He added that he also had the chance to speak with Morrison, with whom he shared talks revolving around ‘dialogue, discussion and cooperation.’
Speaking about Indian priorities in terms of business development, Kovind stressed that the country has a ‘commitment to a liberal, transparent and globalized economy’ and said that it is offering an ‘openness to foreign capital and international investors,’ He added: ‘India is in the midst of its infrastructure push of unusual urgency.’ This explains why he is calling for so much investment at once and why this offer could well be tempting to many.
Regarding the bilateral aspects of trade, Kovind hailed the fact that ‘mass-transit rail coaches made in India have recently been exported to Australia’ and expects this trend to continue. He also noted that Indian IT companies are starting to employ many young Australians.