Has increased its diplomatic engagement: Consul General
Australia has heavily increased its diplomatic engagement with south India with the number of diplomats in the region having gone up by 50 per cent. This gave an opportunity for Australian diplomats to increase their contacts with cities such as Madurai and promote bilateral trade and investment, said David Holly, Consul General to South India, Australian Consulate, Chennai.
Offices had been established in Bangalore and Kochi, he said, adding that this was part of the strategic partnership between the countries.
Addressing an interactive session on ‘India-Australia Partnership: Trade and Investment' organised here on Friday by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Madurai Zone, he said that this increase in diplomats had enabled Australia to devote more resources to south India.
He also noted that Australia was the third largest source of revenue for Indian IT companies, which were seeing 20 to 30 per cent growth in the country. Mr. Holly also recalled that the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund had a Rs. 3.7 crore project with Madurai Kamaraj University on waste management with a particular focus on water treatment. Further, a project on cyber security was also underway with the Indian Institute of Technology –Madras.
Michael Carter, Consul Commercial and Trade Commissioner, Australian Trade Commission, said that bilateral trade stood at Aus$ 21 billion during the last fiscal and was expected to touch Aus$ 40 billion in three years.
The two countries were also negotiating on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, he said adding that Indian investments to the tune of Aus$ 6.5 billion was in the pipeline in various sectors of Australia. With a GDP of Aus$ 1.4 trillion, Australian economy was the 13 largest global economy and had registered growth for 19 consecutive years. Speaking earlier, Shyam Prakash Gupta, chairman, CII Madurai Zone, said that Indian students were among the largest contingent of foreign students in Australia.
R. Dinesh, vice chairman of CII Tamil Nadu State Council, said that with Madurai having nearly half its economy tied to tourism sector, Australian tour operators could link up with local operators .
Marketing and packaging of food products was also a potential area of collaboration between the two countries, he added. A. Kathir Kamanathan, Member, CII Madurai Zonal Council, also spoke.