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Indian economic reforms create significant opportunities for Australia.

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Media Release

Thursday, 20 February 2003 - MVT12/2003

Indian Economic Reforms Create Significant Opportunities for Australia Trade Minister Mark Vaile has concluded talks with his Indian counterpart, Arun Jaitley, in a two-day Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting in New Delhi.

Mr Vaile led a business delegation comprising representatives from more than 35 Australian companies, who participated in the 14th India-Australia Joint Business Council Meeting.

"India's ongoing reform process provides opportunities for Australian companies in sectors such as oil, gas & energy development, education, specialist health care services and agriculture," Mr Vaile said.

During the visit, Mr Vaile met with senior members of the Indian Cabinet including the Ministers for Finance, Agriculture, Petroleum & Natural Gas and Education.

"In all my discussions, I urged the Indian Government to continue to open its economy and explore ways of expanding its commercial relationship with Australia," Mr Vaile said.

"I took the opportunity to raise a number of specific issues of concern to Australian exporters. These include lowering India's tariffs on health & medical equipment, coal, wool, wine and other agricultural products.

"Already, a number of Australian companies have advised me of some positive outcomes from this visit. Nordiko has signed an MOU on environmentally-friendly pest control, the CSIRO strengthened its alliances with India's mining authorities, Victorian Chemicals was able to lobby for a reduction in chemical tariffs, and Clough Offshore has been able to develop some new linkages with the Indian oil & gas market.

"While here in New Delhi, I was able to visit a joint venture operation between Australia's Gribbles Pathology and its Indian partner, Dr Reddy's. This is an example of state of the art Australian health care technology providing high-quality low-cost services in India.

"In the JMC discussions, both countries raised quarantine issues as an impediment to two-way trade. We agreed to bring our officials together for talks to clarify procedures and to explore ways of facilitating quarantine disputes.

"Given strong interest from India in Australia's mining and energy technology, I have asked Austrade to organise an Indian delegation to visit Australia to see first-hand our world class capabilities.

"I was particularly impressed with the range of opportunities available to the business sectors from both countries in each others' markets. There are natural complementarities that will see the Australian and Indian trade and investment relationship grow."

Media Contact: Robyn Bain 02 6277 7420