India – how Australia’s trade will change and how we should communicate

In the 1990’s, Australia sold India coal and LNG. We also sent over copper, lead and gold, along with unprocessed foods such as chickpeas, lentils, almonds and oils.

According to India veteran Michael Moignard (pictured) of East West Advisers, it was the beginning of our trade relationship with India – so that makes it very recent.


In the 2000’s our trade has shifted – uranium is in there but taking the prize has been education in the form of fee-paying students in Australia. Along with this has been IT and processed foods, with wine and packaged goods finding a market. Finally, Indians discovered Australia as a tourist destination.

So, what will the 2020’s look like?

Michael Moignard was our Senior Trade Commissioner in Delhi for 7 years, so it was good that he gazed into the crystal ball at a recent India seminar at BDO. This is what he saw:

“Sustainability” will become a big theme, covering services and products around water, waste, renewables and smart cities. That’s a big shift.

Education will continue to dominate but with a move to skilling India’s workforce – in India. And IT will blossom into IoT, Ai and more.

Continuing strong will be wine, packaged goods and tourism.

In short – it’s a good picture for Australia. Hope you are ready to participate!

Mike’s advice on how to approach India:

  • Don’t just think about selling your product and services to India (just sales and profits should not be the only motive)
  • Work together to create relationships, trust and mutual value (Indians value trust and personal relationships)
  • Ensure Indian counterparts understand you are there for the long haul…and not just for short-term profits
  • Don’t give the impression that your India strategy is just a diversification from China (and India is definitely not the next China)

Oh, and his final tip, use the phone much more and the emails much less.


Melbourne and Victoria leading the way on India growth story

My home town is leading big time on engagement with India.

Michelle Wade, Commissioner to South Asia, State Government of Victoria, Australia, outlined some of the facts in a recent speech to a BDO event “India – it’s time to diversify”.

Melbourne and Victoria are dominant in Indian student numbers, we have close on 180,000 Victorians who were born in India plus on tourism we lead the way.

According to Michelle Wade, trade and investment opportunities abound for us in India – including advanced technologies, edtech, health and wellness.

One key to doing well is to drill down and find organisations with the right capabilities, according to Wade.

BTW Victoria has business offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru – and have been very helpful to me.

Which Victorians are doing well in India? A few from the big list – Linfox, Deakin University, Rubicon Water, MedSurge, Monash University and Swisse.

Time you engaged with the India growth story?

Canada boosts student numbers and gains in diversification of source countries

Canada welcomed more than 400,000 new international students at all study levels in 2019, with Indian student enrolments accounting for most of the increase in new study permits issued.

More important than the increase – Canada is succeeding in diversification of source countries. This has become a “top priority” for Canada.

These students were for university, colleges and K-12 schools.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada statistics show that 404,165 individuals were issued study permits in 2019, an increase of almost 50,000 on the previous year. In 2018, 355,100 new study permits were issued.

Although total figures for the 2019 student population are yet to be released, this new data indicates that the entire international student population in Canada now exceeds 600,000, according to one analyst.

The statistics reveal that 139,740 Indian students were issued study permits in 2019 – up from 107,175 in 2018 – and Indian citizens represent 35% of all 2019 new study permits.

The second biggest cohort came from China with 84,710 permits, marking a decrease on 2018 figures where 85,165 Chinese students were given study permits.

Iran (+39% to 9,795), Nigeria (+16% to 7,585), France (+9% to 14,670) all showed increases of study permits becoming effective in 2019, compared with 2018.

Other countries represented in the top 10 such as South Korea, Brazil, the US and Japan have remained stable, while Vietnam decreased slightly on 2018 figures.

Rounding off the top 15, the Philippines, Mexico, Bangladesh, Colombia and Taiwan all saw increases, with new study permits for the Philippines notably increasing by 56% to a total of 6,365 in 2019.

In 2018, just 40% of active study permits in Canada were for university study – the rest for students at colleges, Quebec’s CEGEPs or at K-12 schools, Universities Canada highlighted.

Although the 2019 breakdown is not yet available, the organisation expects a similar division.

“With the caveat that these new numbers reflect the system as a whole, rather than just university enrolments, Canadian universities are pleased to see continued growth in the number of students choosing Canada as their study destination,” explained assistant director of International Relations at Universities Canada, Cindy McIntyre.

Source: The PIE News


India in the frame is it plans to open education to foreign investors and institutions

Global education is watching as India moves to allow foreign investments in education.

The recent Union Budget signalled India plans to ease rules on foreign investments in education and open up the regulated sector. The budget proposed to encourage foreign direct investment and external commercial borrowings (ECBs) in education.

It is timely – India’s education sector is “capital starved”.

We have to wait for the actual rules, but it looks like the government may allow foreign education players to repatriate a portion of their income in India instead of requiring them to plough back all their earnings into their Indian operations. This would remove a key restriction that academics and experts have flagged for years as a disincentive to foreign investment in education.

The outcome of all this could be more global investment into existing Indian institutions, plus more foreign education institutions opening up in India.

This would be change on a radical scale. It’s needed – India’s education sector is struggling at all levels.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (pictured above) said in her budget speech: “It is felt that our education system needs greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs”.

Please note – though FDI in education through the automatic route is already allowed, it has largely remained confined to the unregulated education technology space.

Expect innovation. Many European campuses are looking at opening special centres within Indian partner universities, rather than going it alone.

Plus greater global collaboration in delivering degrees could be a great outcome – so the student experiences both the Indian and the overseas providers.

So – here is what we are waiting for – the Centre needs to frame rules to ease both fund flow to India and institutional collaboration and how a foreign educational player investing in India will be allowed to take back money that they make in India.

Watch this space…

Melbourne seminar on India has best expert panel

BDO has assembled Melbourne’s best India panel to speak on Tuesday 3 March – book now – free event. Email

They have a great line-up of speakers:
Michelle Wade, Victorian Trade Commissioner for India, Bengaluru
Susan Coles, Deputy State Director, Victoria, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Bill Cole, Partner International, BDO
Sandeep Khurana, Director, EastWest Advisers
Michael Moignard, Director, EastWest Advisers

I am proud to be the MC of this one.

Venue: BDO, 727 Collins Street Melbourne
Date: Tuesday 3 March 2020
Time: 12 noon start (lunch will be provided)

Pictured below: Bill Cole, Partner International, BDO


7 strategies for India market entry 2020

  1. Find the affluent millennials

India is home to the world’s largest population of millennials—typically defined as those aged 18-35. At 450 million, these millennials are influencing the way Indians eat, shop, commute and buy, much like their global counterparts. They are the first upwardly mobile group in recent history of India – and will have an impact very like the way western baby boomers changed most things.


According to Santosh Desai, managing director of Indian Brand Advisory Group Futurebrands, Indians used to be “born something” but now can “become something”.

  1. Drill down to the real middle-class market

We know India has 1.3 billion people, but if you think too much about this you will get nowhere. Drill down to find your market.


For example, some estimate the “middle class” as high as 300 million. For me, this is way too high. Austrade takes a dimmer view – it estimates that there are approximately 30 – 80 million people in our target demographic, many of whom live outside Tier 1 cities. That’s a big range from 30 to 80, which shows that we just do not know. But for me Austrade’s numbers are too low.

Austrade looks for consumers that:

  1. can afford international travel to destinations, like Australia;
  2. can afford to send their children for study abroad; and
  3. can afford to eat at high-end restaurants and hotels or eat significant amounts of imported food and wine at home
  1. Think of India as many markets

Thinking of India as “one market” will slow down your impact and waste your marketing efforts. First, there is the divide between north, south, east and west. Then there are big metropolises (8-10) and hundreds of tier two cities (around one million plus). Then there are over 26 different languages, multiple food cultures, differing beliefs and interests. It is complex, so build that into your “many markets” strategy.

  1. Consumerism is changing in India

India had just 9 Shopping Malls in 2007. There are over 350 Shopping Malls in 2019. Plus 85 new Shopping Malls will be built in the next 5 years = 435 Shopping Malls in 2025.


Add to this that online retail is taking off, with Amazon and the local Flipkart leading the way – Indian consumers use cell phones for online access.

Dr Mark Morley Trade Commissioner India Government of Australia makes a key point about opportunities for us: “Australia is well positioned with the Indian consumer. Across India, we have a great reputation for clean, safe and reliable supply. We are well known as a premium supplier of produce, and we have a global reputation for our quality brands.”

  1. Thinking local is a good way to start

Especially for those in food, beverages, education and fashion, your beginnings for India can start right here in Australia.

About 650,000 Australians claim Indian ancestry, and we have over 65,000 Indian students here, which means a significant local market spending money. Add to that the growth in Indian tourists – up to over 300,000 per year and growing at around 15%. This gives you a good market testing opportunity.

  1. Collaboration is the new relationship

If you just want to “sell” to India, sharpen your pencil and think short term – sooner rather than later, India will find an alternative to you.

To be in India for the long term, seek genuine opportunities to collaborate with Indians – once you and Indian collaborators are working together, your future is more secure. This is how Indians prefer to operate, so drop “transactional” thinking and focus on “collaboration” – it is the new relationship.

  1. Give India the time it needs

Cultures based on relationship (collaboration) are slower to move, so give India at least three years. You might “sell” sooner, but for most this is a very short-term market entry approach.


Why Australian schools have missed out in India and 7 steps to succeeding there

Demand for education in private international English-medium schools in India is soaring.

Despite this, few if any Australian private schools and school product providers have made inroads into India.

One of the barriers is what I call the “agency thinking” of education – just appoint lots of agents and the business will flow. Maybe – but India is a relationship country and you only become a big player through relationships, not through agency.

Indian nationals in the more expensive private international schools with fees above USD$10,000 make up 43 per cent of students. That’s high. As India’s middle class expands, this figure will also rise.

It is a great opportunity for Australian school education – our whole education system is well regarded in India.

The main international curricula offered in India are the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and the Cambridge International Examinations.

Here is the bad news – no Indian schools are offering the Australian curriculum. Why not?

schools 3

I have long advocated a “partnership model” for market entry into India. I recently conducted research on “partnership and collaboration” opportunities in the horticulture sector and this is looking much more positive than simple going to India for a quick sale.

This strategy has also been endorsed in the Final Report International Opportunities for Australian School Curriculum, Assessment and Regulatory Products; Australian International Education: Enabling Growth and Innovation – NSW Education Standards Authority and Nous Group January 2019 – “Given the size and complexity of operating in India, a partnership approach could assist Australian agencies and providers in developing market opportunities.”

Australia is much more “transactional” than we like to think. That is why we have not done well in Indian schooling.

Keep in mind there are many barriers to market entry.

How do you create a “partnership model”?

  1. Of course, do your homework, which means pay for expertise to deliver real on the ground opportunities in India, which might include exchanges, curriculum, technology or some form of JV with an existing school or group
  2. Build relationships – which also means take your time, budget for the long road
  3. Look in the developing sectors, such as Smart Cities, new cities, redevelopments and the property landscape
  4. Create relationships across all areas of the education sector – governments (central and state), schools, advisors, curriculum, technology providers and more
  5. Leverage existing Australian university relationships in India
  6. Always, where you can, build a local Indian presence, because this above all else signals that you want to be a genuine long-term partner
  7. And always, where you can, build your presence through a Joint Venture with a respected Indian brand in your sector