Champion declares India trade trip a success

South Australia’s first official trip to India since 2017 has been heralded as the “beginning of a new phase of an important trading relationship” by the Trade and Investment Minister.

Dec 04, 2023, updated Dec 04, 2023
Trade and Investment Minister Nick Champion in India. Photo: Supplied.

Trade and Investment Minister Nick Champion in India. Photo: Supplied.

Minister Nick Champion arrived back in Adelaide last week following a trip to India where he visited key economic hubs of the nation and met with leaders in the wine, education and tech sectors.

He told InDaily that the “important relationship” between South Australia and India was strengthened and that some inroads had been made for local producers and tech companies.

The Trade and Investment Minister was the first state leader to visit India since 2017, with his trip coming one year on from the signing of the Australia-India Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA).

While there, Champion visited Bengaluru, the “Silicon Valley of India” and Mumbai, the commercial engine of the nation. He also announced the state would appoint a new Mumbai-based country director to capitalise on free trade opportunities.

Other wins included the first shipments arriving in India from South Australian wineries Wirra Wirra and Metala, a StudyAdelaide and state government-hosted International Education Sector Insights session in Bengaluru, and newly formed connections with online Indian grocery store Big Basket.

“The highlights were obviously connecting – for the first time since 2017 – with what is an important nation in its own right,” Champion told InDaily after landing back in Adelaide.

“Both Penny Wong (the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs) and Richard Marles (the Deputy Prime Minister) were there for a two-plus-two visit while I was there as well, so there’s a pretty big national story that’s going on.

“I think it’s the beginning of a new phase of an important trading relationship.”

On SA wine, Champion said the industry had been positioned well to tap into the Indian market.

“You do have to work at getting distribution channels,” he said.

“These markets don’t automatically open, but tariff reductions plus effort on our part does mean that we will have some success in the future.”

Another focus for the minster was to spruik Adelaide as a higher education option for Indian students.

Indians make up the state’s largest cohort of international students. Student enrolments from India for the first half of 2023 sit at nearly 12,000 according to the government – up 39 per cent on 2022.

Champion hosted an international education event in Mumbai to take advantage of this opportunity.

“What we wanted to reiterate, particularly in advance of Adelaide University becoming a reality as of 2026, is that India is obviously a good market for us,” he said.

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“There’s some 12,000 students coming to South Australia and there’s a lot of opportunity to increase that.”

Local producers of premium products could soon enjoy the fruits of a newly formed relationship with Indian e-commerce site Big Basket.

In Bengaluru, Champion met with representatives of the online grocery store which processes around 15 million orders per month.

The Minister said Big Basket was an “amazing bit of technology”.

“It’s a really innovative online retailer with a huge consumer reach and a lot of repeat customers,” he said.

“They have a lot of subscription orders and 15 million orders per month – so it’s a pretty incredible online retailer.

“It was an early meeting to introduce our state to them and make them aware, and from here we’ll try and put them in touch with Australian food producers, including Food South Australia and other interested groups.”

Champion also told InDaily he landed in India when Australia beat the host nation in the cricket World Cup.

“They weren’t too keen on us beating them in cricket, but they took it like good sports,” he said.

“We literally landed as the Australian team won.

“Obviously there was a bit of disappointment around, but there is an enthusiasm for Australia – not just on sporting grounds – but most people know of Australia and have relatives there.

“There’s a growing awareness of Australia as a nation, both trade and for sports, as a broader cross-cultural exchange. I think that is a very positive relationship at the moment.”

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