THE Export Council of Australia (ECA) has applauded the Australian Government’s leading efforts in establishing a work program to set rules for digital trade at the 11th World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Open, transparent and rules-based international trade are critical to Australia’s economic prosperity,” ECA strategic advisor Lisa McAuley said.
“E-commerce, digital trade and the tech start-ups they foster are increasingly important elements of Australia’s trade future.
“Creating certainty around digital rules and regulations will therefore allow companies in Australia’s digital economy to confidently explore opportunities around the world,” Ms McAuley said.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo said this initiative would put in place a framework to shape the rules of international e-commerce in the years to come.
It included 70 of the WTO’s 164 members that collectively account for more than 75 percent of global trade, including the US, Japan and the European Union.
Ms McAuley said the agreement would assist in implementing basic standards for digital trade in areas like consumer protection and electronic contracts.
Such standards may play a critical role in removing barriers and complexities to digital trade, with studies finding that around 70 regional trade agreements around the world currently include chapters on e-commerce, according to the ECA.
A SERIES of mining equipment, technology and services related seminars, meetings and events took place at Australia Business Week in India 2017 last week
Building on the first Australia Business Week in India in 2015, more than 150 business delegates took part this year. Australia’s delegation met Indian businesses and officials in more than 75 sessions and site visits.
“India is the world's fastest growing major economy and our trade and investment ties with this important partner are becoming stronger each year,” said Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Keith Pitt, who led the mining services aspects of the trade mission.
“By 2030, India is forecast to be the third largest economy in the world, and will also have one of the youngest populations,” Mr Pitt said.
“The opportunities for Australian businesses are profound and I congratulate the large number of delegates for joining Australia Business Week in India 2017.”
The business mission overall was led by Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo. Australian Government Ministers planned to visit cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bhopal, but some of those sessions were curtailed owing to localised flooding.
Mr Pitt said he focused on the energy and resources sector delegation across both New Delhi and Kolkata.
Mr Pitt said Australia was a major supplier of energy to India. Australia’s exports of coal helped to underpin India’s goal of energy security and Australian firms in the mining, equipment and technology services – known as the METS sector -- were also helping to improve the safety and efficiency of India’s mines.
In 2016, India was Australia's fifth biggest export market for goods, the sixth for services exports, and total goods and services exports were worth $14.1 billion.
Mr Pitt said two-way trade had grown from about $609 million in 2004 to $20.7 billion in 2016.
"Two-way trade between Australia and India has grown rapidly but more can always be done to expand our trade and investment ties, particularly by bringing businesses together,” he said.
“Australia Business Week in India 2017 will build on the success of the inaugural event in 2015, which created lasting relationships and generated millions of dollars of business.”
FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop has announced the successful applicants for the 2017-18 Australia-India Council (AIC) grants program.
“The AIC works to advance Australia’s foreign and trade policy interests by building awareness and understanding between our countries to further grow our relationship and promote collaboration between Australian and Indian organisations,” Ms Bishop said.
“Each year the AIC awards grants to innovative projects which boost links between Australia and India and enhance our relationship.
“In 2017-18, the AIC will award more than $660,000 to projects with a focus on sectors including education, resources and energy, and agriculture.”
An International Agriculture for Development Pty Ltd project has been awarded a grant to develop technical skills for farming women in West Bengal.
Also awarded is a Western Sydney University project that captures and re-uses excess water to improve agricultural crop yields.
Successful too is a program to connect highly qualified Indian students and engineers from Rajasthan with academics from South Australian universities to study water resources management for eight weeks.
Meanwhile a series of ABC radio programs will also be developed to present a portrait of contemporary India in Australia.
More information about the Australia-India Council, the grants program and a full list of successful grant recipients is available on the Australia-India Council website.
AN AUSTRALIAN agribusiness delegation met with Indian agri-food industry representatives, as part of the Australia Business Week in India activities, to gain new insights and perspectives on agriculture and trade.
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, met with the Confederation of Indian Industry in Chennai on August 28, to discuss the business and trade environment in India, and challenges and opportunities for India's agri-food sector.
“Australia and India share a strong and cooperative relationship, and there are exciting opportunities for us to further strengthen these ties and to expand trade and investment links between our nations' food and agriculture sectors,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“India is the fastest growing major economy in the world, with GDP growth rates forecast to reach 7.7 percent in 2018, compared with the average GDP growth rate of 1.7 percent for G7 member countries.
"India's domestic agri-food demand is expected to increase by 136 percent between 2009 and 2050 — reflecting strong income and population growth.
“Australia understands the strong priority that India places on increasing its food security and agricultural productivity, and I believe there are many mutually-beneficial opportunities for our agri-food sectors to support India in this,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“Australia aims to be a reliable supplier to India of high-quality agricultural products that can complement domestic supply, undergo further processing and value-adding by Indian businesses, target the high-end of the market, and meet counter-seasonal demand.
“There are exciting opportunities to work together to increase both our nations’ agricultural productivity and efficiency in food supply chains.
“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is currently in talks with India to support a proposed MoU between Sugar Research Australia and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Sugarcane Breeding Institute — this will be a partnership between the world's second and third largest sugar exporters.
“This MoU would provide important opportunities to improve Australian and Indian industry productivity and profitability, through variety development, variety exchange, staff exchange, and cooperation on breeding systems and phenomics.
“I look forward to seeing our broad-ranging food and agricultural partnership with India continue to strengthen and grow in coming months and years, including through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.”
Minister Hartsuyker was in India from August 27 to September 1 as part of a delegation to strengthen agricultural ties with India, coinciding with Australia Business Week in India.