The Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) and the Australia-India economic opportunity
With a new major economic deal erasing tariffs across the board, the Australia-India economic relationship is surging forward. AIBX brings even greater opportunity.
The Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) needs greater attention to further boost business ties between the two countries.
The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) is all set to come into force and provide a new dimension to the rapidly strengthening bilateral relationship between the two countries. While enough has been said about what the ECTA is all about and how the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries would boost their mutual relationship further, there is another significant aspect to this relationship when it comes to economic cooperation.
The ECTA would open the doors for a smooth exchange of goods, services and other aspects of trade across both sides but the recognition of the need to develop this capacity has been there for years. The capacity building not just includes providing access to each other’s markets but also aims to develop the understanding of the unique market conditions and economic climate of the two partners.
In this regard, much attention needs to be paid to the Australia-India Business Exchange (AIBX). Managed by Austrade - the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, the AIBX is a flagship programme of the government of Australia to promote business literacy and diversify the markets while also improving on the trade and investment flows across both sides. In order for the Australian companies to operate effectively in India and make use of the immense market potential that exists in the country, there needs to be a thorough understanding of the operating conditions in the Indian markets.
Ever since 2020, the Austrade aims towards organising the Australia-India Business Exchange events which promotes interaction and communications between commercial business across both sides. Both the sides work towards identifying potential exporters of goods and services to their respective countries that would contribute towards the diversification of export flows.
The latest exchange was held from September 26 to 30, 2022. The Australian delegation comprised about a hundred delegates who effectively interacted with the Indian side to understand the various aspects of commercial cooperation between the countries. The aim of such exchanges is to acquaint each side with one another and to know about the unique aspects of businesses that could have a potential space for cooperation. The Australian delegation for example, included the CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency to interact and specifically understand the Ayushman Bharat scheme to explore areas of collaboration among the two. Seemingly, AIBX is not just a platform for commercial business exchange but can involve other state level actors as well.
The India economic strategy
Austrade in alliance with the Indian business community has developed an economic strategy that focuses on the key issues and areas of potential cooperation. This economic strategy identifies four industries with the potential for high level cooperation, these include- education, healthcare, agriculture, urban infrastructure as well as mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.
As far as the education sector is concerned, there is a growing understanding on both sides regarding the immense potential of the sector towards building a strong academic cooperation and research base. While many Indian students have gained access to Australian educational institutes, the recently ratified ECTA also makes it more accessible for Indian students to obtain work visas in Australia. Apart from improving upon the bilateral engagement in the education sector, the aim is also to enhance the Indian educational infrastructure by improving the quality of the top tier educational institutes in India further. Another purpose of business collaboration in terms of education is to also provide vocational skills training and contribute to capacity building along both sides.
The agricultural sector is another important industry at the centre of this business exchange. The idea is to explore the potential of this sector in commercial terms and take advantage of the vast resources that are available in India to improve upon the agricultural business in Australia. India is a strong agricultural power and the free trade agreement allows for duty free access to Indian exports in Australia and vice versa, this is bound to create a smooth platform for businesses to collaborate. The food and beverages sector could greatly benefit from the strong e-commerce platforms that have now become a strong suit for Indian markets as well.
The AIBX also provides a platform for commercial actors to come together and explore the possibilities of a strong collaboration in the healthcare sector. India, as a pharmaceutical giant of the world, holds immense importance for Australian healthcare industries as well. Areas of research and skill development and digital health infrastructure are possibly the most important ones to explore this partnership further.
This ties up with the next industry of cooperation, i.e. urban infrastructure. The rapidly urbanising population in India calls for a strong urban network of railroad connectivity, accessibility to energy resources as well as building of urban precincts. Austrade has taken this as an opportunity for the Australian businesses to improve access to India.
As the strategic cooperation between India and Australia grows further, greater attention is being paid to the importance of critical minerals. The mining equipment, technology and services (METS) industry would occupy a central position in this regard. The large scale privatisation of the METS industries in India is also building the scope for cooperation with Australian business franchises to work together for sustainable extraction of minerals such as coal in India. Australia is becoming a hub for critical minerals such as lithium and collaborating with the Australian companies would add to securing the rising demands in India.
These areas form the basis of India-Australia commercial cooperation while also opening doors for many others in the future. The newly ratified Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) is going to ensure a greater focus on the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) to add to another dimension of holistic cooperation.