AIBC AFR Conference: ‘Engaging with India’ in Trade, Commerce and Energy

 The Australia India Business Council Ltd (AIBC), a national membership organisation representing bi-lateral trade and investment relations between Australia and India organised its first annual AIBC Australia-India Trade and Investment Forum and provided new insights about the growing relationship between the two countries. The forum explored opportunities for collaboration, engagement and business and highlighted the increasing significance of the Australia-India strategic partnership. Engaging with India 2016 was presented by the Australia India Business Council (AIBC) and the Australian Financial Review (AFR). The Forum was the very first of its kind held in Australia.

The national two-day conference which was held on 16-17 May, in Sydney brought together government speakers, business leaders and influencers from around Australia and India.

In his keynote address, Federal Minister for Trade and Investment, Steven Ciobo reinforced Australia’s commitment to the bilateral relationship and reaching a mutually beneficial free trade agreement with India. He encouraged conference delegates to utilise business, people and cultural links as avenues for closer integration.

Indian High Commissioner, Navdeep Suri highlighted India’s rising wealth and purchasing power, internet use and tripling of ecommerce activity and its major infrastructure and transport development. He advocated for the stepping up the tempo of the Australia-India and taking the relationship to the next level.

Social commentator and demographer, Bernard Salt explained how the demand for energy, food, commodities and better lifestyle were strong economic factors propelling the Australia India relationship.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres spoke about the state’s capabilities in infrastructure, education and skills training, coal and renewable energies and tourism as avenues where NSW could meet some of India’s demand.

Brian Hayes QC, Special Envoy to India, South Australia elaborated on the state’s renewed 10 year India Strategy which centred on the arts, sport, culture and water management and its sister state relationship with Rajasthan.

In a panel discussion titled Economic Co-operation – CECA and Beyond, panellists Andrew Robb Special Envoy for Trade, Dr Anuradha Guru from the Government of India, and representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, EY Australia and moderator Greg Earl of the Australian Financial Review discussed the imminent time frame for Australia’s free trade agreement with India, its benefits and implications as well as the two countries’ common strategic interests in the Asia Pacific region.

Former Australian cricketers Glenn McGrath, and Michael Kasprowicz who is also board member of the Australia India Council and representatives from Hockey Australia and Cricket Australia discussed the business of sport, its role in soft diplomacy and the common elements required to be successful in sport and business.

Conference delegates also learned more about major Indian Government initiatives of Make in India, a program to make India a global manufacturing base; Skill India the plan to upskill and train 500 million people by 2022 and encourage entrepreneurship and Smart Cities, the framework to drive economic growth and improve quality of life through urban planning and provision of infrastructure, technology and essential utility services.

The AIBC thanked and acknowledged the support of partners Austrade, Indian High Commission and FICCI. The AIBC also thanked corporate sponsors KPMG, EY, Fragomen, Cricket Australia, Hockey Australia, Export Council of Australia, Indian Link, the awards gala dinner drinks sponsor Westpac and Platinum Partner, CBA for their support.


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