GOVERNMENT MUST GET SERIOUS ABOUT TRADE DIVERSIFICATION

Labor welcomes Scott Morrison’s plan to boost Australia’s trading relationship with India.

But this should have occurred years ago.

For the past seven years, this Government has been complacent about the need to diversify our export markets.

The Government’s flagship report, An India Economic Strategy to 2035, written by distinguished former diplomat Peter Varghese, has been gathering dust since it was released almost two years ago

If the Government is serious about supporting our trade links with India, it should start by supporting our crucial international education sector.

It beggars belief that Mr Morrison is seeking to create a new education partnership with India while his government has failed to support the institutions he will be relying on to deliver it.

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A first step would be to make universities eligible for JobKeeper payments.

Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at $5.5 billion and accounting for around 85 per cent of the total. Before the COVID-19 crisis, there were almost 110,000 Indian students in Australia.

Shadow Minister for Trade, Madeleine King, said the Government was only just waking up to India’s potential.

“The Prime Minister needs a headline and suddenly he discovers India,” she said.

“I hope his plan is more about more than Commonwealth, cricket and curries – otherwise it will be an enormous disappointment for all Australians and the Indian community that realise our relationship has been on the verge of something great for far too long.

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“Diversification of our export markets will take a long time. Scott Morrison is a Johnny-come-lately to a task that will take a national commitment over many years.”