Australia-India International Business Summit translates opportunities into outcomes

"Our relationship is built on many things, but fundamentally, it is built on shared interests. And it is why we think of our relationship as one of dosti - our friendship".

The inaugural Australia India International Business Summit (AIIBS) organised by the Australia India Business Council (AIBC) in Sydney once again underscored the importance of the Australia-India bilateral relationship.

Our relationship is built on many things, but fundamentally, it is built on shared interests. And it is why we think of our relationship as one of dosti – our friendship. So together, there is just so much that our two nations can achieve, and your work is central to that.
Our partnership extends well beyond the bilateral because we share a region and whichever region is being reshaped. Our relationship is profoundly important. It is profoundly important that countries with shared interests work together” said Senator Penny Wong, Foreign Minister of Australia, delivering the Australia India Address at the summit.

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Senator Wong’s words were a powerful message signalling what lies ahead for these two democracies,

“Tonight we celebrate an extraordinary nation, an extraordinary nation’s past and present, for we look forward to an even brighter future. Jai Hind, Happy Independence Day”.

The three-day Summit (23-25 August 2022) emphasising the special significance of the bilateral trade relationship and celebrating the 75th Indian Independence Day included a large contingent of business leaders, from both Australia and India, dignitaries, Members of Parliament across the political spectrum and high ranking Government of India officials.

Among the guests were former Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott, Indian High Commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing Tim Ayres, CEO and Managing Director of Invest India Deepak Bagla, Australian Federal MP and former chair of Parliamentary Friends of India Julian Leeser, Former Leader of Opposition and Cabinet Minister in NSW Parliament Jodi Mckay, NSW Parliament MP and Government whip in the Legislative Council Scott Farlow and Council General of India, Sydney, Manish Gupta.

In an exclusive interview with The Australia Today on the first day of the summit, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing, Tim Ayres, said that the Australia-India relationship is vital for the Indo-Pacific.

He further added,

“The Indian community in Australia is one of our great strengths as a multicultural society. 1 in 35 Australians has Indian heritage it’s something that we celebrate that enriches our culture enriches our economy and makes Australia a stronger place”.

Welcoming the Chief Guest, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and other eminent guests, National Chair of AIBC Jim Varghese AM said, 

“AIBC applauds the Australian Indian diaspora celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence Day. There are no boundaries to the India-Australia relationship.”

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“India is the right partner for Australia and Australian businesses must look to India as a market to supply rather than a market for consumption. The partnership between Australia and India will generate trade in many sectors.”

High Commissioner of India in Australia, Manpreet Vohra, in his address, emphasised that it was time for Australian businesses to understand the potential India has to offer.

“India has emerged as the fastest economy in the world. As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence, India-Australia relations have strengthened during the last decade and upgraded to CSP. This is an acknowledgement of our convergent views on geo-strategic and geo-economic issues, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. ECTA is a watershed moment and opens large opportunities for businesses in both countries. It is time that Australian businesses appreciate New India. Even during the pandemic, the Foreign Direct Investment in India by many countries has grown tremendously. It is time the business leaders to understand this potential India offers.”

Indian High Commissioner to Australia, Manpreet Vohra (Image source: Natasha Jha Bhaskar Twitter)

Many Government and partner organisations including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, High Commission of India Canberra,  Consulate General of India, Sydney,  Investment NSW, Invest India, Austrade, Kerala Start-up Mission, Confederation of Indian Industry, Business Council of Australia, Business NSW, Export Council of Australia, NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, Australia India Travel & Tourism Council participated in the Summit deliberations, business showcase and B2B sessions held during the three days.

Second from left, Consul General of India, Sydney, Manish Gupta, second from right Fmr Leader of Opposition in NSW Parliament, Jodi McKay (Image source: Indranil Halder Facebook)

The business outcome-focused sessions, scheduled over the three days of the Australia India International Business Summit (AIIBS 2022), showcased the “New India – new bilateral business to business opportunities across several key industry sectors”.

These sessions included the participation of leaders from the Australian and the Indian Governments, Corporate leaders, AIBC member organisations, First Nations Businesses, AIBC business partners and Startup founders. Several sectors such as Education & Future of Learning, Defence, Aerospace, Cyber Security, Financial Services & Fintech, Tourism & Hospitality were showcased at the summit.

The program also included a strong focus on advanced manufacturing, smart/sustainable infrastructure, sustainable renewable energy, circular economy, and waste-to-energy solutions with large participation by several businesses across Australia and India both in person and digitally.

There were several business outcomes including a business launch, solution showcase and MOUs facilitated during the summit. The Annual address and a panel discussion hosted by Jodi McKay, with esteemed business and Govt delegates highlighted the need to create ongoing business-to-business connections, India opportunities literacy initiatives and a regular showcase of business case studies and success stories to build continued momentum on this bilateral engagement.

Jodi McKay spoke to The Australia Today about the momentum in the Australia-India bilateral relationship at the Australia India International Business Summit.

The Gala event held at the Four Seasons Sydney also showcased several business outcomes themed “Cultural Extravaganza” highlighting opportunities for collaboration in Art & Culture, First Nation businesses and Textile – Design Industry collaboration at scale with India.

Indigenous Australian dancers enthrall the guests with their rhythm at the AIIBS Gala dinner

President of AIBC NSW State Chapter and Chair of the AIIBS 2022 Business Summit, Irfan Malik, said 

“For the first time in the history of Australia India trade programs, the AIBC Business Summit had a strong focus on Australia – India bilateral opportunities for the Indigenous and First Nations Businesses to leverage and accelerate engagement with the Indian market.”

In a special interview with The Australia Today preceding the summit, First Nations and Indigenous business owner and advocate, Susan Moylan-Coombs and Senior Atlantic Fellow Indu Balachandran, who were co-chairing the session around this initiative, highlighted its significance.

Mr Malik added,

This summit is also expected to spark-off unprecedented levels of cross-industry engagement bringing industry bodies, university research centres, government agencies, startup ecosystems and business groups looking to collaborate on market validation and scaling up opportunities”.

Immediate Past National Chair of AIBC and co-organiser of the Business Summit, Sheba Nandkeolyar said “AIIBS 2022 Business Summit has created a huge momentum and successes to accelerate business to business outcomes and will be a key enabler for Australia India bilateral trade and engagement”.

Indian and Indigenous Australian dancers presenting a dance together at AIIBS Gala dinner

Speaking at the AIIBS Gala dinner CEO and Managing Director of Invest India, Deepak Bagla, said: “our journey has just begun”.

There are huge opportunities for Australian businesses in India. We can work together in many sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, Airports and aviation services, Electric Vehicles, Renewable Energy, Hydrogen, logistics, biotech and Defence”.

Saree Fashion show by ‘Five Pleats by Poornima Menon’ at the AIIBS Gala dinner

AIBC also launched three new initiatives, AIBC Digital, AIBC Young Business Leaders Chapter and AIBC First Nation & Indigenous Chapter at this Business Summit.

Announcing another important milestone in bilateral relations at this Summit, Senator Wong said “my colleague, the Education Minister, Jason Clare, and his counterpart have discussed how Australian universities can help India deliver its plan to see 50% extraordinary objective 50% of young Indians enrolled in higher education by 2035. It is an extraordinary achievement. If they believe we can work together to do so“.