Oz throws open its gates for trade

Over 32 Australian companies showcase their products during the Australia Business Week from January 12 to 16.
Jimmy Jacob        Print Edition: January 18, 2015
Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb
Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb (BT Photo)

For a nation that used to equate Australia with little other than Fosters and cricket, the floodgates Down Under have just swung open. More than 32 Australian companies showcased their products across New Delhi and Mumbai during the course of the Australia Business Week in India from January 12 to 16, 2015. The glitzy event showcased the best in Australian cuisine and beverages even as photographs from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit Down Under filled giant screens surrounding the venue. On a stage in front, a group from Kerala belted out catchy folk tunes.

The largest Commonwealth-sponsored trade, investment, education and tourism mission ever undertaken to India (comprising nearly 450 business delegates) was kickstarted with a punchy opening ceremony at the Australian High Commission in Delhi on January 12. The delegation was led by Andrew Robb AO, Australia's Minister for Trade and Investment.

While Australia's current two-way trade with India stands at just $15 billion, as opposed to $150 billion with China, Melbourne wishes to change all that with the signing of a free trade agreement by the end of this year. And the Australia Business Week is one of the initial steps forward in that regard.

The Keralite band that performed at the event
The Keralite band that performed at the event
Nicola Watkinson, the Australian Trade Commission's Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner for South Asia, said this mission reinforces the message that Australia is open for business. The event, he said, would help Australian businesses identify, strengthen and deepen relationships with India. "Australia has an international reputation as a reliable supplier of healthy, high-quality and tasty food and beverages. This is why Australia can help meet the growing demand in India for such products," said Watkinson.

Michael Carter, Trade Commissioner and leader of the Premium Food and Beverage delegation, said that some of the key events taking place as part of Premium Food and Beverage showcase include the Australian Lamb promotion; provision of cooking tips from master chef Adam D'Sylva during the Godrej Nature's Basket promotion; and the opportunity to taste a range of Australian premium foods, beverages and wines.

Carter said that premium food and beverages from Australia is in strong demand because of the diversity in the country's food flavours, commitment to the environment, sustainable practices and rigorous food safety standards. "Australia's size and its diverse geography and climatic zones create a wide variety of growing conditions, making a diverse range of fresh produce available for export virtually year-round. Added to this is our proximity to Asian markets, which shortens transport time for fresh produce," he added.

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