SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

3 October 2018

FUTUREASIA – DEEPER TIES WITH INDIA

Labor today released the next part of our FutureAsia plan – to deepen engagement with India, boost trade and create more jobs for Australians.

India is currently Australia’s fifth largest trading partner.

Over the next two decades India will become the world’s third largest economy with a population of almost 1.7 billion people.

This is a huge market. It presents a massive opportunity for Australian businesses, workers and farmers.

We want to sell more of what we make in Australia to India to create more local jobs.

In order to capitalise on this opportunity we must improve the way we engage with India to better understand how its economy operates and what it needs.

If we don’t move quickly, Australia is at risk of losing out to other countries that have already recognised the opportunity.

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Support-in-principle the 10 priority recommendations of Peter Varghese’s Indian Economic Strategy
  • Hold Annual Australia Week in India trade missions, focussing on the 10 sectors and 10 states identified in Varghese’s Indian Economic Strategy. At the moment, trade missions to India are held only every two years.
  • Work with the Indian Government to establish a reciprocal internship program to allow recent Australian graduates to help build the Asian business capability of young Australian professionals.

The Liberals received the Varghese Report in July.

Since then, they have been too focussed on themselves and their internal divisions to implement it.

This report is too important to sit in the Trade Minister’s top drawer gathering dust.

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Jason Clare will visit India next week to discuss these plans and meet with Indian Government officials and business leaders.

This builds on other initiatives Labor will undertake to deepen our ties with our region to boost jobs and make Australia more secure.

These include:

  • Restoration of $1.5 million in funding cut from the Asian Education Foundation
  • Allocating $3 million to boost the Asian capability of Australian boards, working with the Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Establishing the Australian-ASEAN Studies Centre
  • Establishing an Asian Diaspora program
  • Seek an agreement to establish an internship program with China
  • Make Australia Week in China an annual event
  • Set up a team to tackle non-tariff barriers to trade
  • Hold meetings of Asia-Pacific Finance Ministers in advance of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting
  • Holding an annual 2 +2 of Australia’s and Indonesia’s Finance and Trade Ministers
  • Report annually to the Parliament on progress in implementing FutureAsia.

 

Priority recommendations of Peter Varghese’s Indian Economic Strategy:

  1. Reposition ‘Brand Australia’ to improve the perception in India of the quality of Australian education
  2. Universities Australia should explore options for a consortium of Australian universities to be the lead partner in the establishment of one of India’s six new proposed Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
  3. Work with the Indian Government to put in place mechanisms to provide better forecasting and greater visibility of fluctuations in Indian demand for agricultural commodities imported for Australia
  4. Promote increased direct air services between Australia and India
  5. Convene an Australia-India Infrastructure Council as a forum for collaboration between government and the private sector from both countries, including at the state level
  6. Scale up the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF)
  7. Upgrade the small Austrade presence in Kolkata into a full Consulate-General
  8. Australia should take the lead in working with other countries to bring India into APEC
  9. Establish a Strategic Economic Dialogue with India to facilitate a broader and deeper discussion of the economic relationship and reform priorities
  10. Strengthen the Australia-India CEO Forum.

 

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.