Agri-Trade will take Australia-India relationship to all-time high

“Agricultural innovation is booming in Australia, with data and technology underpinning the drive for agriculture to be a $100 billion export industry. We have a lot to offer to India.”

A delegation of Indian officials and business leaders are in Australia to explore economic opportunities across agtech, food and consumer goods sectors arising from the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA).

Organised by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), the delegation includes officials of India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and representatives from major agtech and e-commerce businesses.

Following a welcome reception in Sydney on Monday, the agtech and e-commerce groups split for a week of visits to agricultural innovation hubs and networking events to explore e-commerce opportunities with Australian food and consumer goods companies as they travel through New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

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Indian delegates to the AIBX Agribusiness Mission at the Sydney Startup Hub this morning (Image source: Austrade)

Head of Austrade South Asia, Catherine Gallagher said the bilateral relationship is “at an all-time high” after the recent signing of the economic cooperation and trade agreement.

Once in force, it will see tariffs eliminated on more than 85 per cent of Australian goods exports to India (valued at more than $12.6 billion a year), rising to almost 91 per cent (valued at $13.4 billion) over 10 years.

“Australia’s reputation for quality goods and services – from agriculture, technology, food, health and consumer products to education and resources – is rapidly growing in India,” Ms Gallagher said. 

“By supporting the Australian and Indian business communities to engage with each other, Austrade hopes to build on existing momentum and support commercial success.” 

Joint Secretary for India’s Ministry of Agricultural and Farmers Welfare Shomita JS Biswas, said, “the delegation is a learning opportunity for the Indian side and the sharing of experience will deepen the relationship between India and Australia.”

Indian agribusiness leaders from fintech to climate-smart technology are getting to know about Australia’s agricultural innovation by touring world-class agtech hubs in Orange, Wagga Wagga and Toowoomba. The delegates attended the Digital Agrifood Summit in Wagga Wagga, which brings together farmers, researchers and industry.

Keynote speaker at the summit Professor David Lamb, Chief Scientist Food Agility and Adjunct Research Professor Charles Sturt University said the visit was an opportunity to exchange ideas and explore partnerships.

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John Southwell, Austrade’s new India-based Trade and Investment Commissioner who specialises in agribusiness (Image source: Austrade)

“Agricultural innovation is booming in Australia, with data and technology underpinning the drive for agriculture to be a $100 billion export industry. We have a lot to offer to countries like India,” he said.

Australia’s agtech solutions can help India increase production while managing scarce resources, variable climates and meeting consumer demands for healthy, convenient and traceable foods, said Austrade Trade and Investment Commissioner to Mumbai John Southwell.

“The signing of the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) will fuel mutually beneficial ag-tech collaboration.” 

“Austrade encourages Indian and Australian agribusinesses to forge partnerships from manufacturing products using Australian intellectual property to food processing to bring benefits to both nations,”

he said.

Among the delegates in Australia is Mr T.R. Kesavan, Group President, Corporate Relations & Alliances for TAFE Limited, the world’s third-largest tractor manufacturer and India’s largest exporter of tractors and agricultural equipment, including to Australia.

Mr Kesavan said: “I’m particularly interested to look at the advances Australia is making in water management and robotic weeding technology. It all adds up to potentially huge savings for both the farmer and the wider environment. At the same time, there’s much that India is doing, for instance in the area of traceability, that is equally applicable to Australia. There is much that we can and should collaborate on. The strengthening ties between our two countries open up so many opportunities for our agtech companies.”

Mr Kesavan at Agritech and Logistics Hub in Toowoomba (Image source: Austrade)

Mr Kesavan told The Australia Today that there are a lot of similarities in what’s happening in India and Australia’s agriculture sectors and emphasised on cooperation between the two countries in this sector.

“We face similar challenges, like variable climates and water scarcity. Australia’s innovation is easily transferable and adapted to India’s needs.”

“I believe cooperation between Australia and India in the agricultural space is a win-win for both countries. Australia’s agricultural technology can be brought to India not just for usage but for scaling and then marketed to the world” said Mr Kesavan.

Indian agribusiness delegation at Agritech and Logistics Hub in Toowoomba (Image source: Austrade)

Indian agribusinesses joining TAFE as part of the delegation include Captain Agri Machinery, DCM Shriram, Samunnati and Sangha Group.

The rapid growth of India’s e-commerce sector, which is now worth $63.4 billion, has also seen an increasing number of online platforms cater to over 658 million internet users. The diversity among online players and the growing demand for Australian products create opportunities for Australian businesses to reach more customers.

At the same time, India’s middle class has developed a taste for Australian consumer goods from beauty and skincare, health and wellness to food and fashion.

Representatives from India’s leading e-commerce platforms are meeting with Australian consumer goods companies and learning about Australian products while exploring opportunities to expand their portfolios. The delegation of Indian e-commerce companies includes Aim Direct Global, Amazon, Evolve Digitas, Ninjacart, Pagariya Food Products Limited, Tyche Retail and Marketing Private Limited.

Indian agribusiness delegation in Brisbane (Image source: Austrade)

As part of the mission, the delegates visited Australian-founded vitamins, supplements and skincare brand Swisse in Melbourne. Since 2020, Swisse has successfully pursued an all-digital strategy in India with brand ambassadors including Nicole Kidman and Chris Hemsworth.

“We are delighted to host an inbound e-commerce delegation from India to our home in Collingwood. Our digital and e-commerce-first strategy in India has been integral to our market entry,” said Nick Mann, Regional CEO, H&H Group.

“We’ve partnered with leading platforms in India that have been able to showcase our range of premium vitamins, herbal and mineral products, beauty supplements and natural skincare with Indian consumers.”

The delegation is part of the Austrade’s Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) program aimed at growing two-way commercial partnerships and outcomes.

Austrade aims at building a stronger economy by accelerating the growth of Australian businesses through international trade, attracting foreign investment and stimulating recovery in the visitor economy.