India invites Australian companies to invest in India’s mining sector

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India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath Thursday invited Australian companies to tap the growing opportunities in India’s mining, farm and education sectors.

“The mining sector should be of great interest to you. The economies of India’s traditionally backward states, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, have the potential to grow from USD 30 billion in 2003 to USD 75 billion by 2015 if they tap their mineral wealth, and in the coming years I expect Australian companies with their state-of-the-art clean coal and mining technologies to play a huge role in developing the wealth of these states,” said Kamal Nath while addressing the 16th meeting of the India-Australia Joint Business Council organized by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here Thursday.

The farm sector stakeholders may have a lot to offer to India in latest farming methods and cropping patterns, he said.

India, Kamal Nath said, was in the process of revitalizing its farm sector massive investments in processing capabilities and cold chains. It was also looking to diversify its crop mix.

“I believe that Australian food processing companies can play a big role in developing boutique crops in India such as canola, Chinese vegetables, grapes, organic wheat and berries,” he pointed out.

Kamal Nath said the education sector had a vast scope for Australian firms and institutions. This was already becoming evident from the fact that last year Australia edged out the UK to become the second most sought after destination for Indian students, attracting 15,000 students in 2006, he added.

Responding to the concerns expressed by Habil Khorakiwala, president of FICCI, on availability of visas for business travel, Australian Minister for Trade Warren Truss said the two governments had agreed to resolve the issue so that multiple entry visas could be made easily available to business visitors.

Truss, who is leading the largest-ever business delegation to India, alluded to the synergies that existed between the two countries that now needed to be translated into concrete business ties. For instance, he said, Australia has huge mineral and energy resources and India has a huge demand in these sectors.

He said food processing in India offered big opportunities for Australian companies. He said he would initiate a major study in Australia on India’s food processing industries in order to assess how Australian companies could assist Indian companies in this sector.

The meeting was also addressed by Brian Hayes, chairman of the Australia-India JBC, Vikram Kapur, chairman of the India-Australia JBC, and Habil Khorakiwala, FICCI president.

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