South Australia India Business Forum

10 March 2015

Written by Dr. Marlene Kanga AM, Distinguished Fellow Australia India Institute.

The ICC Cricket World Cup and the match between India and Pakistan at the newly redeveloped Adelaide Oval was the catalyst for the South Australia India Business Forum held in Adelaide in February 2015. The Australia India Institute (AII) had a notable presence at the forum, which was organised by Mr. Brian Hayes QC, a Fellow of the AII and Chair of the South Australia Tourism Commission Board. I presented a keynote address on the diverse opportunities and immense potential of trade and business relationships with India. The Institute's publication, Hullaballoo - The Fuss About Australia-India Relations, edited by CEO and Foundation Director of the Institute,  Professor Amitabh Mattoo, was distributed to delegates and discussed at the forum.

The forum is part of the Government of South Australia's plan to develop business relationships with India. A strategy developed in 2012 maps out a 10 year plan in key strategic areas including mining, energy and services.  This will be an annual event, held in January with an important cricket event that involves India. There will also be annual visits to India in August led by the South Australia Minister for Trade and Investment and a delegation comprising business representatives from the state.

The Premier of South Australia, The Hon. Jay Wetherill, made it clear that this was an important initiative, meeting with the delegates on four separate events during the forum and spending time with each of the invited guests from India.

Business representatives, representing diverse sectors including engineering services, renewable energy, business services and information technology were matched with potential business partners in South Australia. They were drawn from specific regions, including Jaipur, Delhi, Pune and Mumbai which are seen as potential hubs for India - Australia trade. The forum included a panel discussion with the Minister for Tourism and Trade Development the Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith who made it apparent that South Australia was open for business. Mr Raymond Spence, Chair Cap Gemini and Economic Development Board and who has spent many decades in India, provided valuable insights into the vital ingredients for success. The current head of Patrick Kearins Austrade in South Australia was based in Mumbai for four years and was able to discuss the dynamic environment for business in India. Mr David Gault, General Manager for Tata Consultancy Services spoke of the increasing opportunities in the technology and services sector.

I had a chance to highlight the opportunities in innovation and new technologies in high technology industries as well as the opportunities that address the burgeoning interest of India's youth; Education services, entertainment and leisure, including films and gaming and the booming IT industry were discussed as sectors with significant potential.

Delegates enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of the government of South Australia including an evening in the Cathedral Room at the Adelaide Oval, framed by the famous St Peter's Cathedral and entertained by the sublime singing of Greta Bradman, opera soprano and granddaughter of cricketing great, Sir Donald Bradman. The cricket of course was a highlight with a stadium that was packed to the rafters with an fanatically enthusiastic crowd for the India-Pakistan match. The crescendo of the cheer increasing as India approached victory. India's eventual victory and the ensuing euphoria adding to the feeling of certainty among delegates that this forum was the start of many successful relationships that will serve Australia and India well.