Centre for Australia-India Relations (CAIR) has been allocated $44 million in the budget, which has been hailed by the Australia India Business Council (AIBC) as the Albanese Government’s commitment to its establishment.
The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI ECTA), which was signed in April, and the development of talks on a larger free trade agreement coincide with a crucial period in the relationship between the two countries.
National Chair of the AIBC, Jodi McKay, said the Centre would become a key institution in deepening the dialogue between the two countries and working closely with business and industry to explore and capture the emerging opportunities in India and Australia trade.
“India is the fifth largest and fastest growing economy in the world and is recognised as a key strategic partner for Australia. Two-way trade between the two countries is currently $25 billion and is forecast to grow to $45 billion within the next five years,” Ms McKay said.
“The Centre will play a key role in helping India and Australia meet those aspirations,” she added.
According to Ms McKay, the Centre’s focus on promoting policy dialogue and strengthening the industry and business links is important, but so too is engaging Australia’s rapidly growing Indian diaspora.
“AIBC has long championed business-to-business links, but also believes there must be greater emphasis on the growing India diaspora and its connection to India.”
“The Centre will provide a focus on Australia’s Indian diaspora as a “living bridge” between the two countries, which until now has been missing from Australia’s strategic approach to India,” said Ms McKay.
“Our connection to India must be more than a transactional relationship. There is an opportunity for the Centre to play a critical role in developing genuine relationships by growing cultural understanding and business literacy to ensure long-term, sustainable success.”
With funding now secured, AIBC is advocating for the Centre to be established in Western Sydney, which is home to a large Indian diaspora.
NSW President, Irfan Malik, said there was great support for the Centre to be established in Parramatta, which is NSW’s second city and a thriving commercial hub.
“As well as making sense from a business perspective, establishing the Centre in Western Sydney would also send a message to the Indian Australian community that the Federal Government understands their importance in advancing the business and cultural ties between India and Australia.”
“AIBC congratulates the Albanese Government on the funding commitment over four years and looks forward to supporting the Centre’s crucial work.”