West Bengal is one of the top ten key Indian states for trade and investment from Australia and four major sectors have been identified for future commercial activities. Releasing the ‘Indian Economic Strategy 2035’ here at a special session organised by Bharat Chamber of Commerce, consul general of Australia in Kolkata, Andrew Ford, emphasised that Australia considers India to be the top country for deepening and strengthening its international partnership.

India is one of the top trading partners of Australia in the world and the country now features in the top tier of preferred nations for future economic investments. This is why a long-term road map such as Indian Economic Strategy 2035 is necessary,” said Mr Ford, while speaking on the theme of ‘New Perspectives of Trade and Investment between India and Australia’.

While acknowledging that India is the sixth largest trading partner of Australia and accounts for 3.6 per cent of the total trade and services exported from the country, Mr Ford said that the roadmap prepared by the Australian government aims to lift India into top three export markets and has a target to increase the investment from 14 billion dollars in 2017 to 100 billion dollars by 2035.

Emphasising on the need to build ‘India literacy’ among the public and investors from Australia, he said, “This report also aims to make Australians understand better so that the connection between people can be built and synergy among the investors is created to take the trade relations between these two nations to newer heights. I think 7,00,000- strong Indian diaspora will play a key role in bring the two countries closer.”

In 2017-18, India was the largest source of new permanent migrants to Australia and number of tourists from India has jumped 15 per cent in recent times.

Highlighting the core sectors for investment in West Bengal, the newly-appointed consul general said, “We have identified four areas for Bengal: resource and energy, agriculture, vocational education and healthcare. Bengal is a gateway of investment to the entire East India and the North-east. Although there is our embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai and Chennai, our consulate in Kolkata was closed due to some issues. We are happy to reopen it after a long gap.” Apart from West Bengal, the other top priority states are Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab. “Our focus lies on flagship sectors like Education, Tourism, Healthcare, Financial Services and Mining. West Bengal in this regard will be a state we eagerly look forward to in terms of bi-lateral trade and investments”, he also added.

Earlier, in his welcome speech, Sitaram Sharma, president of the Chamber, highlighted the potential of fostering collaboration and innovation in the mining industry. Mr. Sharma also observed that there is great scope for collaboration between the two countries in agriculture and food processing, especially in precision farming, post-harvest solutions, logistics, seed treatment and soil health.