New era for India-Australia as Ms Petula Thomas becomes Director of Indo-Australia Chamber of Commerce

Exciting news for the India-Australia relationship – Ms Petula Thomas has been appointed the new Director of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Petula worked with the British Deputy High Commission (BDHC), Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and British Airways in Chennai over the past 15 years and brings a wealth of experience in strategic leadership, international relations, marketing and business development.

Petula is a passionate innovator and supporter of Women in Leadership, so I feel she will make a big positive difference in this role.


She is also a strong communicator.

We need strong and effective communication to enhance the India-Australia role and to make it easier for business of both countries to get together.

I hope the IACC can pioneer more exchange of people, more two-way missions, great education, more collaboration, improved cross-cultural understanding and positive steps to ensure that business in both countries know best what works in each country.

By the way – Petula has an amazing track record, winning four global and regional performance awards from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, when she headed Consular Operations for South India, leading on Customer Engagement for the MENASA region (Middle East North Africa and South Asia) and Communications/Digital strategy for India.

Petula has worked with Austrade, Australian Government, where she received commendation from the Deputy CEO Austrade for successfully delivering on multi-city Industry events in India & Australia. During her career with British Airways Plc. she received a Regional CASAMEA award (Central Asia South Asia Middle East & Africa) for Revenue Development/Sales from British Airways Plc.

Petula has a First class Masters Degree in Science and recent qualifications in Project Management and Customer Relationship Management (including Sales, Marketing and E-commerce).

We wish her every success and happiness in the important new role.

Global Purchasing Power is moving to Asia

The biggest nation on Earth, China, is expected to keep its top spot as the country with the largest purchasing power on Earth and is on track to almost triple its purchasing power by 2030, according to an analysis by the British Bank, Standard Chartered.

India will almost quadruple its purchasing power, moving to rank 2.

China will double the USA while India will beat USA by approx 50%.

asia map

In the case of Japan, the country is expected to lose 5 ranks and emerge as the country with the 9th highest purchasing power worldwide.

Developing economies like Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and Egypt are set to move into ranks four to seven respectively, toppling the reign of countries like Japan and Germany, which are still growing their purchasing power but at a much slower rate. The U.S. is expected to only drop one rank to position 3 but is grappling with slower growth.

In summary – an amazing outcome for Asia – especially China, India and Indonesia.

asia map 2

How is your Asia engagement strategy going? Time to begin, change or reinvigorate? Get good advice so you avoid the mistakes of many before you.

Megacities right on Australia’s doorstep – opportunities in Asia-Pacific

In 1900 only 15% of the globe’s population resided in cities. By 2008 over half of the world’s population lived in cities. The trend continues.

Megacities have 10 million or more people and the future growth is in Asia Pacific.

In 2017, Asia Pacific accounted for the largest number of megacities, with 19 of the 33 (58%). China and India are the regional and global leaders, with six and four megacities each in 2017, respectively. For India these are Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. Chennai will join them within a decade.


Pictured – Mumbai, one of India’s four Megacities

Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, (picture below) will replace Tokyo as the globe’s biggest city – 35.6 million by 2030.


Ageing is expected to have an impact on many key megacities in East Asia over 2017–2030. Growth in the share of over 65-year-olds will be particularly apparent in Seoul, and Chinese megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

The twin opportunities for Australia – become involved in the move towards “smart cities” and provide services for the ageing populations. It’s right on our doorstep.

Are you ready for the facts on how much India has changed?

(Based on an article by Monika Halan, consulting editor at Mint and writer on household finance, policy and regulation)

Indian elections have just opened – so, how long does it take to find out if your name is on the Indian electoral role? Go to the Election Commission site, it asks you to SMS to check if your name is on the list—thirty seconds later, you will get a confirmation that your name is or is not there. Things move fast in modern India.

As Monika Halan writes – “Most people get their Provident Fund (PF) balance on SMS too. Also, the passport and visa processes are mostly all automated and keeps us well-informed about the progress of the process.”

So, what else works fast and well in India?

The metro network where it exists, in cities like Delhi and Kochi, is superb.


Getting or renewing a passport used to be a total nightmare a decade back. Enter private sector plus technology and the average time it takes for the passport application process is 30 minutes to under 4 hours. The passport reaches home by courier in a couple of days. At every stage, you get an SMS informing you what will happen next.

What about getting a driving licence? At least in Delhi, the process is mostly painless—online form filling, and 30 minutes to three hours of time in the local office. The licence reaches home in just a few days – according to Monika Halan.

Property registration used to be a nightmare. But Halan says “That again is a breeze. Again, a mix of technology and processes has reduced transaction time and pain hugely.”

Payments is the other huge success story of modern India. Forgetting your wallet at home is no big deal anymore. The money is in the phone. In a wallet, on an app or available through mobile banking. Riding on the backbone built by the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI), transaction options and ease are both world-class.


So how long does it take you to get a Wi-fi connection? How long does it take you to open a bank account? At least in the big metros, a Wi-fi connection happens within a day. Opening a bank account takes lesser time. The average time for these services in most developed countries is much longer. In most of Europe, for instance, it takes at least a month to get both these services.

Modern India is fast. Click on “buy” at 11pm and hear the doorbell ring at 9am the next morning.

A huge shift has happened in India and even Indians have failed to notice. The mix of technology, competition and cheap labour – plus reformist governments – means modern India has some of the simplest and fastest processes in the world.

All of this in just over a decade.

Time to catch up with what is really happening in modern India?

Indian governments “awash with money” as the GST has impact

Gross Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection by the Government of India reached Rs 1.07 trillion (US$ 15.41 billion) in March 2019, registering the highest monthly collection in FY19.

This is a stunning boost to both the Central and the 29 State Governments.

We used to advise businesses wanting to enter India that they should only deal with government there “if they have to”. But things have changed. Not only do the central and the State Governments have lots of money, they are all proactive in encouraging business – and competing hard to outdo each other on ease of business and encouragement for entrepreneurs.


So, our advice today – include governments in your list of people to talk to about doing business with India.




India’s product and services exports to hit US$540 billion this year

Can this be true?

India’s merchandise and services export would touch USD 540-billion mark this fiscal, Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said Thursday.

Seems the figures back it up – India was once an isolated domestic economy but is now a major global exporter.

He said exports are growing at a healthy pace and shipments of goods would reach over USD 330 billion.  Similarly, services exports would touch about USD 200 billion.

The goods exports grew by 8.85 per cent this year and the Indian economy continues to hit around 7 per cent growth annually.

Surely this is one of the world’s great economic stories.

How China and India differ in the consumer goods market

India’s share in the consumption of consumer goods is expected to double by 2030 and favourable demographics (youth) will soon take it ahead of China in regional market dynamics, according to a report by Credit Suisse.

Interestingly, in India it is the home-grown brands like watchmaker Titan, hosiery company Rupa and another watchmaker Sonata which are gaining the most out of this propensity to spend in India.


However, India is at a comparative disadvantage vis-a-vis China because of factors like less urbanisation, high concentration of urban pockets and lower enrolments in higher education.

It said in 2015, China had 150 million more people in working age than India, while by 2045, the northern neighbour will have 300 million less people than India in the bracket.

Additionally, China will also have to grapple with ageing related issues by 2045, it said, pointing out that the Communist country will have 350 million people aged over 65 as against 200 million in India.


It marked out the apparel and meat sectors as the ones with ‘high’ growth potential as the per capital income of the country grows, followed by beverages, cars, cereals, personal computers, smart phones and education with ‘medium’ growth potential, while healthcare, consumer credit and tourism were the ones with ‘low’ potential.

consumer 4

From a consumption perspective, the Chinese prefer more of travel and entertainment-related options, it is staples that dominate the Indian story, the brokerage said.

India scores over China when it comes to spending intentions, the brokerage said, pointing out that the desire to spend is declining “more broadly” in China.



IMF confirms India leads as a growth economy

India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said, asserting that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years, but more needs to be done.

Responding to a question on India’s economic development in the last five years at a fortnightly news conference here, IMF communications director Gerry Rice Thursday said, “India has of course been one of the world’s fastest growing large economies of late, with growth averaging about seven per cent over the past five years.”

“Important reforms have been implemented and we feel more reforms are needed to sustain this high growth, including to harness the demographic dividend opportunity, which India has,” he said.

Details about the Indian economy would be revealed in the upcoming World Economic Outlook (WEO) survey report to be released by the IMF ahead of the annual spring meeting with the World Bank next month, he said.

This report would be the first under Indian American economist Gita Gopinath, who is now IMF’s chief economist.

“The WEO will go into more details. But amongst the policy priorities, we would include accelerate the cleanup of banks and corporate balance sheets, continue fiscal consolidation, both at centre and state levels, and broadly maintain the reform momentum in terms of structural reforms in factor markets, labour, land reforms and further enhancing the business climate to achieve faster and more inclusive growth,” Rice said.

World auto industry investing in Indian auto startups

India is attracting global investment, especially in automotive startups – global automobile manufacturers have invested around $491 million in 2018 in Indian automobile industry start-ups, led by Essel Green Mobility’s investment of $300 million into Bengaluru-based on-demand AC bus service provider Zipgo, according to market intelligence firm Venture Intelligence.


There were 13 investments during the year. In 2018, Taiwanese two-wheeler manufacturer Kwang Yang Motor, known as Kymco, invested $65 million in Gurugram-based electric two-wheeler maker Twenty Two Motors, while auto major Mahindra and Mahindra invested $40 million in self-drive car company Zoomcar.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the trading arm of Toyota Group, invested around $30 million in Droom Technology, the operator of India’s largest online automobile marketplace by co-leading Series D fundraising of the company. The firms also concluded a pact on the overseas expansion of the used car and motorcycle marketplace business.


I feel sorry for Adani Group, but wonder why they bought in the first place

I kind of feel sorry for the Adani Group. Here they are sitting on Australia’s biggest coal reserve, yet nobody wants them.

But, how did Adani Group get into this strife torn project?

After all, Australia has most of the world’s biggest and smartest coal miners. They all knew about the Carmichael but none of them would touch it. Did Adani ask why not?

No Australian bank would fund it. Did this give Adani pause to think?

Aussie politics was always going to be mixed on this one – yes, er, no. Did these give Adani concerns?

The whole scheme depended on a new railway and a port – right near the globally significant Great Barrier Reef. Promised the “world’s biggest coal mine” our governments offered billions to pay for railway and port. But then it became “just enough coal for Adani’s own power stations”. That’s a long way short of the early promise and politicians are looking for an out. Is this a surprise to Adani?

Importing coal is no longer popular in his country of India, which is moving in a big way to alternatives such as wind and solar. Did Adani factor this into their Aussie plans?

And finally – global demand for coal has taken a hit, demand just fell over the cliff. What did Adani market research tell them about this?

In Australia, Adani Group is lonely.

Adani might be a fine Indian corporation. But here in Australia they seem to have stumbled into something no Aussie firm would touch.

That’s why I kind of feel sorry for them.