Australian Trade Minister on six-day visit to India

Australian Trade Minister on six-day visit to India

Crean's visit is being seen as an attempt to take the Australia-India trade ties to a new level."The Government has put India in the front rank of our international partnerships," he said in a statement.

Crean will visit New Delhi on Monday where he will be briefed on the on-going preparations for the October Commonwealth Games, according to a statement today.

Crean will also travel to Mumbai and Hyderabad during his six-day visit and will meet politicians, banking and business leaders to discuss trade relations with Australia's fourth- largest export market.

He said the visit comes at a "crucial time" with booming trade in the resources sector and investment between the two nations.

There is also great potential to extend the export market in areas including services, agriculture, manufacturing and renewable energy, he said.

"The complementarities between our economies point towards a closer trade and economic partnership," he said.

Yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued an alert, warning of possible terror strikes in Delhi. The Minister, however, has decided to go ahead with the trip.

Crean will discuss the finalisation of the bilateral FTA Feasibility Study in meetings with his counterpart, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma.

"This will be my third visit to India and comes at a crucial time with booming trade and investment between the two nations and an opportunity for even greater growth".

"My visit will strengthen that partnership and lay the groundwork for continued growth in trade and economic relationship," he said.

Crean will meet the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games Suresh Kalmadi, to be briefed on preparations for the October 2010 event.

"The Games will be a great event for India and New Delhi and we look forward to Australia sending its largest Commonwealth Games team ever," he said.

"Part of discussions will be security arrangements for Australians representing Australia at the Games. We are pleased with cooperation so far and these talks will continue with the Games less than six months away," he said.

In Delhi, besides discussing the FTA feasibility study, Crean will meet ministers from a variety of portfolios to push forward the broad bilateral agenda.

Along with his counterpart Sharma, Crean will address the Confederation of Indian Industry and meet delegates from the Joint Business Council.

He will host a function in honour of the Advance Emerging Leaders India Summit, which is being held in Delhi on May 4.

In Mumbai, Crean will meet with the Reserve Bank of India and senior Indian CEOs. He will also visit the Yash Raj Film studio, hoping to launch a bid to woo Bollywood to Australia.

In Hyderabad as well, Crean will meet industry leaders. His meetings will be aimed at expanding Australia's trade presence in India.

"I have announced the Government's expansion plans for Austrade to establish five new offices across India, taking to eleven the number of trade offices in India," he said.

Crean's visit to India is his first since Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Manmohan Singh agreed on a Strategic Partnership between Australia and India in November 2009.

Two-way trade was up 55 per cent in 2008-09, notwithstanding the global economic crisis, and has grown at 25 per cent a year for the past four years. As many as 12 Indian ministers have visited Australia since 2008.

This will be the twelfth visit by an Australian Federal Government Minister in the same timeframe, as well as the visit of the Prime Minister.

"The complementarities between our economies point towards a closer trade and economic partnership. Australia is a key supplier of resources and energy for India's future growth," Crean said.

"But there remains untapped potential in services, agriculture, manufactures and renewable and clean energy technology," he added.

India is now Australia's fourth largest export market – up from sixth in 2006-07 and thirteenth in 1998-99. 

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