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Media Release

“The opportunity is now! We must develop closer relations with India” – clarion call by business and government leaders at AIBC panel discussion to reinforce bilateral partnership

20 July 2020

On 17 July 2020 during a first-of-its-kind webinar, distinguished speakers discussed the implications on bilateral business and economy of June’s virtual Australian and Indian Prime Ministers summit, during which nine Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreements were signed, with the unanimous message being ‘the time is ripe now’ for bilateral engagement.

The high-profile panel, organised by Australia India Business Council Ltd (AIBC), the peak body facilitating bi-lateral trade and investment between Australia and India, included High Commissioner of India to Australia, His Excellency Mr Gitesh Sarma; High Commissioner of Australia to India, His Excellency Hon Barry O’Farrell; Ambassador Anil Wadhwa; Business Council of Australia CEO, Jennifer Westacott AO; Export Council of Australia Chair, Dianne Tipping; Event Partner Tata Consultancy Services Country Head Australia New Zealand, Vikram Singh; Consul General of India NSW – Manish Gupta; AIBC Chairman Emeritus Neville Roach AO; AIBC National Vice Chair, Sanushka Seomangal; and moderator Sheba Nandkeolyar, Immediate Past National Chair of AIBC, Reference Group Member of IES 2035 and Chair of AIBC Women in Business.

Jennifer Westacott said:If we Australians want uninterrupted growth for the next 30 years and our prosperity to be enhanced, we must develop a closer and closer relationship with India. The opportunity is now. If we nurture the relationship properly, it will lift living standards across the world. We support comprehensive partnership in many areas already identified. It is important to think about the right structure to nurture the relationship properly. BCA is keen to partner with AIBC in establishing a business structure.”

Dianne Tipping said: “We need to broaden our horizons in exporting. Covid 19 has emphasised a need for global supply chains. With MOUs very strongly aligned, there are huge opportunities in many sectors in India.”

Jim Varghese said: “Today is a milestone in terms of capturing business opportunities among key players in the industry and government. As Minister Simon Birmingham put it – ‘No single market offers more growth opportunity for Australian business than India out to 2035’. I am pleased to announce that a task force will be set up to facilitate and nurture relations, and AIBC will publish a discussion paper highlighting this initiative to fast track opportunities. AIBC’s Digital Exchange Forum will provide valuable benefits to members, partner organisations, stakeholders and additionally now to BCA and ECA after today’s webinar.”

HE High Commissioner Sarma said: “This is a wonderful initiative by AIBC. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) adds new flavor to the bilateral relationship which is changing from a strategic partnership to a comprehensive partnership. Our relations are mature. The spirit of the relationship is captured in the CSP. Indeed, the environment has changed in India and the opportunities are immense. Working together, partnering and upscaling will boost trade. India is ready and waiting for such opportunities. That is the spirit of the virtual summit.”

HE High Commissioner O’Farrell said: “The CSP covers all important sectors. All the MOUs are enabling mechanisms and deepen our mutual economic interests. I consider MOUs on critical minerals, water and vocational education and training are particularly important.”

Ambassador Wadhwa advised attendees that the Australia Economic Strategy was being revised due to Covid and highlighted key opportunities for Australian companies engaging with India in 20 areas including minerals, mining, energy, defense, space, shipbuilding, vocational training, cyber security, infrastructure, online education technology, water resources, large scale supply chains, sports, technology, and textiles.

Vikram Singh said: “IT is a key enabler and key differentiator for India. Significant changes are happening with Covid. The trends for the future are self-reliance in manufacturing and supply chain distribution, focus on digitisation and rebooting sustainability. TCS has also invested in Australia in cyber security, data driven analytics, research and innovation and is looking forward to broadening further opportunities”

Neville Roach said “The sun has risen. I urge businesses to take advantage of this time and do something. People to people communication often results in strong commitments. I appeal to Business Council of Australia members to consider spending more time in India, which will make big difference to the bilateral trade.”

Consul General Gupta urged attendees to take the relationship forward by engaging with bilateral businesses in key sectors through trade programs like Access India by NSW Government.

AIBC National Vice Chair, Sanushka Seomangal said: ‘The panel discussions were very engaging. There is so much traction now. AIBC will lead and facilitate bilateral engagements.

In conclusion Sheba Nandkeolyar believed the time is ripe and the time is now. She put on record the strong, positive momentum and particularly successful outcomes achieved by the meeting in deepening bilateral engagement. She echoed the sentiments of Jennifer Westacott about Australia and India working together towards lifting living standards of citizens.

For further information about AIBC, please visit:

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About Australia India Business Council:

As the pre-eminent business council in Australia, the AIBC is an innovative business advocacy organisation whose purpose is to promote bilateral trade and expand Australia-India commercial ties. AIBC provides its members with a forum to provide input into the policy and agenda for both countries, exchange business ideas, and provide networking opportunities through interaction across government and business groups. The AIBC maintains close relationships with federal and state government agencies, the diplomatic corps and industry bodies, and showcases opportunities to the Australian business community through an active program of events nationally.


Jim Varghese E: M: +61 474 739 479