It’s the Prime Minister’s first official trip to the world’s most populous democracy, and after arriving late Sunday night, Malcolm Turnbull is keen to get down to business to strengthen and increase cooperation between the two countries.
“It’s a competitive market and as you know we love competition, we like free trade, we like open markets [and] we’re committed to them,” Mr Turnbull said on Monday in New Delhi.
Mr Turnbull is keen to close a trade deal with India, after his predecessor Tony Abbott set an ambitious 12-month timetable on a deal when he was in office but failed to deliver.
The federal government is hopeful it can increase its exports, particularly when it comes to energy commodities, higher education, and professional services.
“It is a process that will take some time, you know India has a long tradition of protection particularly for agriculture,” Mr Turnbull said.
“We want to have open markets, open markets for everything, but in particular for agriculture.”
Mr Turnbull said it’s important to “persevere” will trade talks to finalise a deal, with two-way trade between Australia and India currently worth nearly $20 billion each year.
“You can see the trade between our two countries is growing all the time [and] there are more opportunities arising,” he said.
The opportunities for exports of coal are there, if the giant Adani Carmichael mine tipped for Queensland’s Galilee basin goes ahead as planned.
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull (left) is received by Indian PM Narendra Modi at a welcome at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2017. FAIRFAX MEDIA POOL
Mr Turnbull said he’s “looking forward” to meeting with Adani founder, Gautam Adani, during his three-day state visit, in which he is expected to be asked to seal the deal on $900 million from the Northern Australia Infrastructure fund.
“That’s an independent process, it has to go through that process, through that independent assessment by the board,” Mr Turnbull said.
Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit coincides with that of Education Minister Simon Birmingham and a large contingent of university vice-chancellors.
Shadow Resources Minister Jason Clare said important to dispel the myth that increased trade means fewer jobs for Australians.
“America’s lost a lot of manufacturing jobs over the last few decades. Some of it’s because of trade but most of it is because of automation,” Mr Clare said.
He said it’s up to the federal government to provide better incomes and opportunities for the working class if it wants to avoid the anti-trade sentiment similar to that seen in the United States.
If you’re someone who’s just lost your job you don’t really care whether it’s trade of whether it’s a robot that’s taken your job you just want your job back,” he said.