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India-Australia bilateral trade to double to $35 bn by 2020: Westpac

Bank increasing focus on technology, infrastructure

Nupur Anand  |  Mumbai 

Australia's oldest bank, Westpac Banking Corporation expects bilateral trade between India-Australia to double in the next five years to $35 billion with the Indian economic growth looking up.

Trade between the two countries was approximately $17-18 billion in 2014.

This bodes well for the lender that is mainly focused on wholesale and institutional clients involved in trade and investments.

"India is an important trade partner for Australia. The bilateral trade between Indian and Australia mainly constitutes import of coal and natural resources from Australia. Going ahead also the demand is expected to remain strong, with focus on smart cities and industrial corridor and the urbanization project being undertaken in India. As a result, demand for power and steel will increase and it bodes well for the trade relations between India and Australia. Our bank's strategy is to connect business consumers on either side," said Vikram Nimkar, Country Head-India, Westpac.

Westpac got a licence from the Reserve Bank of India to commence operations in India in 2012. So far, the lender has mainly limited its business to the wholesale and institutional segment. Getting deep into the retail business in the Indian market is not a part of Westpac's near-term strategy.

However, with trade flows growing between India-Australia and business expected to pick up, the bank is now increasing its investment in technology and infrastructure.

"We have chosen to grow in a calibrated manner so far. But we are investing in technology and infrastructure and we have also doubled the team size (currently 40 in India). Our initial capital was much more than the minimum required capital, which shows that the idea is not to be conservative and we want to grow in India. Now that green shoots are visible we will also be more visible in the market," added Nimkar.

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First Published: Thu, February 12 2015. 12:32 IST