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Australian investors want easier business environment in India: Nicola Watkinson

Official hopes Free Trade Agreement would be signed by end-2015

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

Nicola Watkinson

Australian investors have a few conditions, such as clarity in regulations and a simple taxation system, before they take part in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship project Make in India.

Nicola Watkinson, senior trade and investment commissioner of South Asia, Australian Trade Commission said investors from her country are eager to invest in India in different sectors, such as energy, agriculture, education, training and skill development, tourism and preservation of and health and medical research. However, they have a few conditions of their own before they put the money on the table.

Watkinson said Australian investors expect clarity in the regulatory system, simplification of taxation, introduction of Goods and Services Tax, approvals and access to land in a time-bound manner and simplification of labeling and standards

In Mumbai, accompanied by 450 Australian trade and investment delegates, she said: “Modi managed to persuade Australian investors that India is worth having another look at. It is a place that has a lot more forward-looking strategy and they are determined to make things to do business easy.”

She added together with the renewed business confidence here in India and with the increased interest and confidence from the Australian business who are prepared to partner and collaborate. As far as Indian investments in Australia were concerned, Watkinson said there are enough opportunities in information technology (IT), mining, technology development, research and development especially in life sciences and pharmaceuticals.

“Already, there has been substantial investments made by Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro, HCL in IT. Leading Indian energy companies are pursuing investments in mining sector.”

However, Watkinson admitted that the signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and Australia will further help spur trade and investments both ways which is currently at a paltry $12 billion compared with $120 billion between Australia and China. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit in Australia, announced that FTA will be signed by end of 2015. Already, the first round of talks were completed on December 18 and 19 in Delhi and we have a good road map to take these talks forward. Australia has already signed FTAs with China, South Korea and Japan. We see India next,” Watkinson said.

She hoped that the FTA will remove trade barriers, open up markets and thereby increase productivity and competitiveness of economies. “Australian companies from the dairy and farming sector are keen to work with Indian companies to help and increase producivity. They expect Indian government to open up market to bring those capabilities,” she added.

First Published: Thu, January 15 2015. 00:42 IST