In terms of the economic strength that Victoria has in Australia, we recognize the importance of the similarities and synergies that we have with India. We have a strong manufacturing base that India has and is developing.
We have universities and schools and a recent history of international students from India. We see India as one of emerging economies. We have had experience in China and lot of the other Asian countries, and are able to see great opportunities for partnerships between Victoria and India. Melbourne, of course, has been recently voted as the world’s most live-able city. There are great aspects in terms of our design, our city layout that can be applied to India which is growing and expanding, and is trying to understand how infrastructure and industry can work together. We also have a strong ICT sector which aligns with the direction in which India is going in terms of their strength in the ICT area. We have very strong Indian communities in Australia. Victoria is the most multi-cultural state in Australia. We are a prosperous state. Even though there are regions and states that are doing well, Victoria is demonstrating its strong capacity at all levels.
So when we sat down as a new Government, we decided one of the tasks was to enable companies to experience the world. We have had a trade Mission to China. This is the very first of the Super Trade Missions out of the state, and the largest out of Australia. Considering that Victoria has a population of 5 million and India is 1.3 billion and growing, we do feel there are great opportunities on either side. There are some great synergies and some great gaps and we can act in positive ways. I am staggered by the uptake in manufacturing. The manufacturing content is phenomenal, and it does put India at a competitive advantage even with lower costs in China. What we have to offer is high-end value development. We specialize in this, because of the small market size we have in our part of the world.
Also as a Minister I’m careful about not to walk into a country, shake hands and expect to start trading or doing business. Anyone in business will understand that a lot starts with just a discussion and an understanding of what your synergies are. We will of course look closely at the relationships that are substantial, which are long-term and mutually beneficial for both countries. There is a given that there are some risks on both sides
What are the main sectors that are being offered for investment?
Education is clearly the primary target. We have 7 vice-chancellors and one deputy vice chancellor on this Mission. Leader of every University out of Victoria is here. There are 15 heads from technical education institutions. We see great synergies as those relationships are maintained, built upon and get stronger. We have a world renowned capacity to deal with international students. China and India are two of the largest nations that send students into Australia, and it is important for us to recognize that as these areas grow in terms of opportunities in learning, skills, and a whole raft of other issues. Those synergies allow Universities to be set up here. As your industry grows and you look to skill up the needs of this economy, you will be like Victoria, trying to attract a good quality skill base, and it is important to develop that skill base in a quality way within. We are also trying to develop some of the relations through joint ventures.
The second one is ICT. The other one is increasing capacity manufacturing in a significant number of T1 and T2 manufacturing industries that are looking to establish partnerships and relationships with India. This is a new market, the approach is different, but we are extremely pleased with what we’ve seen. We visited the Motherson Sumi Systems that has an AUD 2.5 billion a year turnover and is a substantial major supplier into the automotive sector around the world. We were able to see what an outstanding achievement this is, in terms of what they do in the world market. And it gives us an opportunity of what we can do together. We have to recognize that in Australia in order to compete with low wages and high output, niche manufacturing becomes a necessity because of the smallness of the market size. As we say in Australia, we either innovate or we die. Australian companies are very good at innovating, because there is just one other option. There is great opportunity in terms of working with the Indian manufacturers here in terms of providing assistance and support. I’ll say this, my wish is that at some point Indian manufacturers will be able to set up base in Victoria. We have the most manufacturing companies in Victoria and in the automobile sector we have Ford, GM and Toyota. Victoria is still the largest manufacturing state in Australia. It employs close to 300,000 workers. In the context of a state that has 5 million it is quite significant. When you take into account the multiplier effect of such a workforce and the service industry that gets associated, it is about 1.5 million, about 1 to 5 ratio.
Do you see tourism growing in the near future?
As India grows more aspirational, and as it grows, you’ll find that Indian people would want to travel more, and Australia would be one of the destinations. There are great opportunities for Indian companies to establish a presence in Australia as it gets more aspirational. We know it’s getting aspirational as we look at some of the figures available. Usually in terms of aspirations it’s a house first, followed by a car. In the year 2020, the annual car sales figures are likely to touch 30 million cars.
Dalla-Riva (left) with Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Ms Louise Asher and Minister for Technology and for the Aviation Industry, Mr Gordon Rich-Phillips
What kind of investor support does the Government of Victoria provide?
There is back office support in terms of interaction and connections for businesses that are looking to set up businesses in Victoria. There is also what we would call a no-cost relationship that looks at issues of planning and relationship building. Apart from this tangible support, there is intangible support in terms of the commitment businesses receive from the ministers.
Are you planning a follow up to the Super Trade Mission?
Yes, we are. We are returning in November, and by that time we’d have a fair idea of the areas in which we need to move forward with time. We are happy to share similar democratic structures in both countries that allow for stability and good environments for business. Also as a Minister I’m careful about not to walk into a country, shake hands and expect to start trading or doing business. Anyone in business will understand that a lot starts with just a discussion and an understanding of what your synergies are. We will of course look closely at the relationships that are substantial, which are long-term and mutually beneficial for both countries. There is a given that there are some risks on both sides.
Which sectors are you hoping will receive maximum interest?
Well when you have over 250 companies, it is too early to start evaluating results. But as I said earlier, we are impressed by some of what we’ve seen in the manufacturing sector. Some of them definitely do deliver world class results, and they’ve been measured against other manufacturing plants around the world. So it is not just about talking the talk, but they’re also walking the walk in terms of saleability and output. You’ve a domestic market that needs to be satisfied first in terms of volumes, but soon enough you’ll see India as one of the biggest exporters in its own right, if not already. And that will be one of the key areas working closely with India.