China may be the flavour of the month, but Ipswich businesses are being encouraged to turn their eye to India.
Ipswich City Council’s Office of Economic Development recently hosted Andrew Ford, Australian Consul-General to India (Kolkata), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr Ford said he hoped Ipswich could develop a strategic link with his team in India in order to assist local SMEs to open doors and promote Ipswich industries.
“We want to assist in positioning Ipswich to be a potential partner for India, for industry collaboration and an investment destination,” he said.
He has been in India since April and believed there was huge potential for Ipswich businesses.
India is at the forefront of Australia’s international partnerships. In 2017-18, India was Australia’s fifth largest trading partner, with a total two-way trade in goods and services of $29.1 billion, and two-way investment in 2017 of AU$29.5 billion.
“It has the fastest growing major economy in the world. There are 1.3 billion people and it is rapidly developing,” he said.
“There is a need for food, a need to be educated, to grow the skills and resources sectors, the health sector in particular. These are all areas Ipswich could tap into.”
Education is a focus for the Indian Government and a $20 billion market opportunity. India is Ipswich’s fourth largest education market and council is leading an Ipswich Region Education Consortium to increase the international student participation from overseas.
Ipswich also has a sister city relationship with Hyderabad.
Council’s CEO David Farmer met with Mr Ford and highlighted the importance of developing partnerships with DFAT to foster regional industries collaboration and promotion to overseas, helping businesses to grow outside local boundaries and export markets.
“Economic development is a priority for the City of Ipswich to increase labour force participation, better livelihood and knowledge intensive workforce development through business and investment attraction, nurturing local businesses to grow and identify opportunities for high growth industries to be connected with key trading partners, such as India,” he said.
Mr Farmer said Ipswich is a processing hub for value-added food and agriculture products. The region also hosts meat processing plants, where the innovative technologies are utilised for efficiency and productivity.
The Indian Government aims to increase agricultural productivity and Ipswich-based organisations could partner with Indian conglomerates and research organisations.
During his two-day visit to the city, Mr Ford met with Springfield City Group, USQ, TAE Aerospace, the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other relevant stakeholders.
He said he was very impressed to see the city’s capabilities and proactive initiatives that could foster new ties with India.
“I have been gaining an understanding of the aspirations that Ipswich City Council has to grow the industries in international markets and it shows the commitment of a progressive local government.
“One of the initial key messages that I will convey to Indian strategic partners is that Ipswich is open to do business with India.”