Home / Companies / News /  Australian firms eye India tie-ups

NEW DELHI : An Australian delegation, comprising 106 companies, will visit India this week to explore supply partnerships with companies, including Ola Electric Mobility, Tata Chemicals and Aditya Birla Group. The Australian companies will also scout for opportunities in critical minerals, digital health, infrastructure and agri-food sectors.

The initiative is part of the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) programme. The delegation will be led by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).

In April, India and Australia had signed the Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (ECTA). The interim trade agreement was to be followed by a comprehensive deal by the end of this year.

However, the deal is now likely to be implemented by February after the Australian Parliament ratifies it in January, said Denise Eaton, trade and investment commissioner, Australia in an interview. She attributed the delay to elections and forming of a new government in Australia.

“The visit is about progressing the ECTA signed in April and will help Australia access India’s market…It offers Australian exporters an enhanced opportunity for trade diversification," said Eaton.

The delegation will visit Ola’s new battery Innovation Centre in Bengaluru and its future factory in Tamil Nadu, she said. It will explore commercial and economic collaboration in the critical minerals sector, including lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel, and titanium, she said. Under ECTA, India has either eliminated, or greatly reduced tariffs on minerals, creating opportunities for both Australian and Indian companies. It complements India’s renewable energy objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

India is Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner, and the in the energy and resources market, India is its fifth largest exporting market. “So, this is all about building on the discussions and the relationships that have taken place to date to ensure we have some economic and commercial collaborations or strengthening that collaboration," said Eaton.

A report by Austrade in 2021, titled “Unlocking Australia-India critical minerals partnership potential", had identified critical minerals of importance to both nations such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel, titanium, and vanadium, besides light and heavy rare earths. “They are in monitors, in our headphones, in electric vehicles and alloys that go in defence equipment and aerospace sectors. They also go in solar panels and wind turbines," said Eaton.

Australia is looking at opportunities to partner with India, which is transitioning to becoming a carbon neutral economy and driving the renewable energy target of 50 megawatts by 2030.

“All these critical minerals are so important, and Australia has these critical minerals. In fact, we are a leader in this space; we are the world’s largest producer of lithium. We’re the second largest producer of rare earth elements. And we also have large resources of cobalt and magnesium. So all of these minerals that are important for today’s modern world, Australia has in abundance," she said.

India has been amazing in what it’s doing to develop its EV two-wheelers, added Eaton. “So the growth of manufacturing in India is complemented by our ability to explore mines, to sort and process the critical minerals that is so important in today’s world." The bilateral free-trade agreement was signed on 2 April, providing India duty-free access on 95% tariff lines that it exports to Canberra, including textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery, machinery and select medical devices. New Delhi has offered immediate tariff elimination on 40% of tariff lines, comprising 85% of Australia’s export in value terms, while another 30.3% will see a withdrawal or reduction in tariffs over a period of three, five, seven and 10 years.

Queries sent to Ola Electric, Tata Chemicals and Aditya Birla Group remained unanswered.

ravi.dutt@livemint.com

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