Petroleum and natural gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the Government of India has invited Australian companies to invest in the hydrocarbon sector. He was addressing the India-Australia Business Summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Australian Trade Commission in the presence of Australia's Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, who has been accompanied by a 450-member-strong business delegation from Australia for the summit.
Pradhan said that the government was taking bold and innovative measures to take India to a higher growth path. He stated that oil and gas featured among the 25 sectors that were shortlisted for the Make in India initiative.
He said that the government would be pursuing a policy of "Power for All" by 2019. In addition, the process of auctioning coal blocks was under way, environment laws and regulations were being simplified and diesel prices had been deregulated. These measures, he hoped would make doing business in the hydrocarbon sector more attractive.
He felt that Australian companies could also invest in the mining sector in India, metals, geo-scientific research, exploration of coal-bed methane. He also encouraged Indian companies to invest in Australian LNG projects.
In his address, Robb said Australia can help India achieve energy security. In this context, he cited the recent project of Adani Mining in Queenland which he stated would yield about 60 million tonnes of coal per annum. He also mentioned that Australia could help India diversify its energy basket by providing access to fuels such as LNG.
In terms of areas of cooperation, he cited the areas of mining and minerals and agri and food processing industries. He pointed out that Australian banks and pension funds have over Australian dollars three trillion under management some of which could be invested in India.
Robb observed that around 300,000 Indians were studying in Australia. He stated that the new Colombo Plan announced by his government would encourage more Australians to study in countries like India.
Robb said the Australian Government had accorded high priority to concluding the Australia India FTA and hoped that it would be concluded this year itself. Speaking at the summit,Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu said Andhra Pradesh could be Australia's gateway into India, and added that it was his government's objective to convert Andhra Pradesh into a logistics hub in India.
In this regard he cited the construction of four ports in his state as a part of the Sagarmala Project of th central government. Inviting Australian companies to invest in Andhra Pradesh, Naidu said his objective was to make the state one of the top 20 places in terms of ease of doing business. He stated that his government was committed to providing all clearances for a project within 21 days.
According to New South Wales Premier Michael Bruce Baird, both countries could work together in areas such as infrastructure development, promoting two way tourism as well as skill development in India.
Sam Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, Rio Tinto Group, said there was a real window of opportunity in India as it undertakes a major reforms programme.