More good news! Consider Bangladesh – which for many symbolises everything wrong with the world – take another look

Literacy in Bangladesh jumped from 35% to 74%

Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, for many people in the west is a symbol of everything wrong with the unequal world.

But take another look.

It celebrated a ‘development miracle’ in 2021, its 50th year of independence. In the last three decades, GDP per capita has increased seven fold, 24 million people have been lifted out of poverty, life expectancy has risen to 73 years, infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen by a factor of five, the literacy rate has increased from 35% to 74%, and more than 97% of the population now has access to electricity, up from 62% in 2014.

Worth going over that again – it is genuine good news.

Will India and Australia achieve “early harvest” trade deals and lay groundwork for a CECA?

Former PM Tony Abbott was instrumental in getting trade talks going again

INTO INDIA believes the two big issues facing Australia are allowing greater people movement from India to Australia, and directing more of our massive A$ 2.3 trillion pension fund sector that could be a regular source of investments in the Indian infrastructure and disinvestment story.

The key for Australia is to see India as more than a “quick sale” – Indian negotiators will be looking to push the two countries to become partners, adopting policies that streamline physical movement, including, on-arrival visas, multiple entry long term business visas, etc.

From India’s perspective, it will want to ensure that trade deficits in the post agreement period do not widen. And two, non-tariff barriers and differences in standards or recognition of qualifications do not offset higher access through the trade deal. As an Indian report recently wrote: “This is the crux of the matter.”

In the larger CECA agreement, investments from Australia will play a big role in the growth of bilateral trade between the two countries, because the growth trajectory of India will create new opportunities for Australian companies, including in areas like water management and up in future, for which Australia can be a long term reliable supplier.

In the early harvest agreement, Australia wants services included with goods – an area where India has not performed well in earlier trade deals such as with ASEAN.

Australia however just needs to accept the sensitivity of the agribusiness sector in India – the deal will fall over if Australia demands substantially lower tariffs across the board for fruits, dairy, agriculture and processed food items.

INTO INDIA RECOMMENDS Australia narrow its ambitions down to selected niche items in the agriculture sector. Finding ways that Australian expertise, technology innovation and scale can actually transform Indian agriculture sector towards value addition would give Australia a big advantage.

Finally, you can expect India could show flexibility in tariff lines related to commodities and minerals, which are needed for its growing economy and the e-mobility program. In turn, Australia could be accommodative in tariff lines related to refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles, gems and jewellery, auto components and made up textile items, which it imports in any case from countries around the world, in addition to India.

Thanks to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in collaboration with KPMG and led by Amb Anil Wadhwa, who is Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

How is India travelling? Some developments for investors and exporters

Some developments for investors and exporters

  • One billion vaccines: The cumulative coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine doses administered across the country surpassed the 1-billion milestone, today. Over 700 million people have been administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 290 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the government’s CoWin website. The government has set a target to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021.
  • Moody’s banking rating: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook for the Indian banking system to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. It believes that the deterioration of asset quality since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic has been moderate and an improving operating environment will support asset quality. Moody’s expects asset quality to further improve, leading to decline in credit costs, as economic activity normalises. The rating agency has projected India’s real GDP growth for 2021-22 at 9.3 per cent.
  • Tax targets overshoot: The Centre is likely to exceed the budgeted tax collection target of Rs.22.2 trillion for the current fiscal year by Rs.2.5 trillion, according to experts. This is driven by better indirect tax mop-up, compliance measures and recovery in most sectors following the second wave of the pandemic. Personal income and corporate tax collections grew by 74 per cent to Rs.5.7 trillion in the first half of the current financial year, mainly due to advance tax and tax deduction at source (TDS) payments.
  • Power deficit: The power shortage situation in the country is improving as per the data released by the Central Electricity Authority. Power shortage came down to 1,456 MW on 17 October 2021 from 2,714 MW a week back. Peak power shortage stood at a massive 11,626 MW on 7 October 2021. According to power sector experts, demand has moderated due to the onset of autumn and heavy rains in many parts of the country. Moreover, an improvement in coal supplies would further bring down the power deficit.
  • Data consumption: India has the highest mobile data consumption in the world which is about 11 to 12 GB per user a month. The country is adding as much as 25 million new smartphone users every quarter making it a flourishing ground to launch digital initiatives, Ram Sewak Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority of India said. By 2025, India’s data consumption is likely to be doubled to nearly 25 GB per person a month, driven by affordable mobile broadband services and changing video viewing habits, Swedish gear maker Ericsson said.
  • E-Commerce sales: The share of e-commerce in the overall sales pie has touched new highs in the first fortnight of October 2021, according to market trackers and companies. Several categories, including smartphones, consumer electronics, apparel and daily necessities are growing faster than last year. The share of smartphone sales online surged to around 60 per cent in the first fortnight of Navratri-Dussehra from around 55 per cent, early estimates by market tracker Counterpoint Research showed. Televisions grew to 40 per cent from 31 per cent in the same period last year, while refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and kitchen appliances rose to 9-10 per cent from 6-8 per cent. Market research firm RedSeer Consulting said the overall online shopper base has grown by around 20 per cent this festive season compared to last year, with tier II markets contributing to almost 61 per cent of all shoppers
  • Foreign investment: India witnessed net foreign investment inflows of USD 8.3 billion in August 2021, as compared to net inflows of USD 649 million in the preceding month. Net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to USD 5 billion from nearly USD 3 billion in July 2021. Net inflows of foreign portfolio investment (FPI) worth USD 3.3 billion were seen in August 2021, after witnessing net outflows of USD 1.6 billion in July 2021.

Thanks to ASK Capital Management Pte Ltd for the above information.

Australia: home to 48 of the world’s top 50 most innovative companies

Bosch and Monash University team up on “smart agriculture”

When you think Australia you might call to mind minerals, vast fields of agriculture or cricket.

But there is another reality about Australia – it’s a smart place.

International companies are leveraging Australia’s talent, government support and research to boost productivity, competitiveness and growth – according to data from Austrade and Boston Consulting Group.

Forty-eight out of Boston Consulting Group’s top 50 most innovative companies operate in Australia. These companies have partnered with Australian organisations to research additive manufacturing, renewable hydrogen technology and cloud supercomputing, among other areas.

Advanced manufacturing: General Electric

GE subsidiary GE Additive and the University of Sydney are establishing a high-tech manufacturing hub. The Sydney Manufacturing Hub will advance Australia’s capability in metal additive manufacturing technology.

Agricultural technology: Bosch

Bosch Australia and Monash University are co-developing Australia’s first smart agriculture research facility. The facility will contain a prototypical ‘smart farm’ to test: artificial intelligence; automation; robotic and advanced sensor technology solutions

Energy: Hyundai

Hyundai, Fortescue and CSIRO are working together to develop renewable hydrogen technology. The group seeks to:

  • develop new hydrogen technologies with the potential for bulk transport
  • build a renewable hydrogen refuelling facility, to deploy hydrogen fuel cell coaches
  • build the first combined hydrogen production and refuelling facility in Western Australia. 

Healthcare: Johnson & Johnson

The Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ Monash is a hub for researchers and early-stage companies. The facility allows them to develop novel pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer healthcare solutions.

Technology: Amazon Web Services and Intel

Amazon Web Services, Intel and AARNET established Australia’s first cloud supercomputing facility. Based at RMIT University, the facility focuses on advanced data processing and computing.

So, from the land of minerals, farming and cricket – there is also an advanced technology reason to team up with the Aussies.

Australian critical minerals, infrastructure, energy, technology, agribusiness, education and space – step up to the table for FTA talks with India

The Australian Trade Minister, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, last week pointed to Indian FTA priority areas such as critical minerals, infrastructure, energy, technology, agribusiness, education and space.

He announced a speeding up of talks with India last week and chose the launch of the Canberra chapter of the Australia India Chamber of Commerce to also announce an update of the India Economic Strategy.

This is a great time for business to step forward. You can have a say. You can be at the FTA discussion table.

The Minister said he had asked former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to visit India for meetings around the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (which is an FTA).

He announced to the AICC that both countries were hopeful of concluding negotiations this year – a dramatic ramping up of the pace.

The AICC has the Hon. Ted Baillieu AO as its Founding Patron.

India great agritech market but an insider advises “find local partners”

Agritech booming in India but be careful about market entry

A recent story in EVOKE, an agritech site, really caught my eye with a piece of sound advice.

It was so good to read the Managing Partner of Omnivore, Mark Kahn, with his greatest piece of advice to those not already there: do not to move to India immediately. Omnivore is the largest and oldest player in the Indian agritech venture scene

“I’ve never seen a foreign startup succeed in India that was selling directly. Sometimes we have very well-meaning people that relocate their lives here and think they’re going to be able to build an organisation from the ground up and the reality is it’s just very difficult.

“The best thing you could do is get some Indian members on your team, co-create solutions that bridge the gap between whatever you’ve developed earlier and whatever our local farmers actually need and find local partners.

“You should be manufacturing in Australia or maybe India, but you don’t want to build a distribution system yourself and even if you try, you’re not very likely to succeed.”

He pointed to agritech related to water and drought resistance as two high priority opportunity areas.

The agritech opportunities are huge, but INTO INDIA has been advising for a long time that you need partners and a collaborative mindset to really succeed in India.

UK and India pragmatic negotiators achieve a trade and investment deal

INTO INDIA has been advocating for Australia to do what deals can be done with India, and “park” a Free Trade Agreement for later on.

The UK-India Virtual Summit has done just that.

Their newly created Enhanced Trade Partnership (bureaucratic speak for “these are the things we can agree on now) will create immediate opportunities for British businesses in India across industries including food and drink, life sciences and the service sector.

Non-tariff barriers on fruit and medical devices will be lowered, allowing British businesses to export more of their products to India and boosting UK growth and jobs. It also commits both sides to addressing immediate market access barriers as well as continuing to seek further opportunities on the road to an FTA. That is, “parking” the FTA for later on – it is just too hard to achieve.

Prime ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson held their Virtual Summit this week and agreed on a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” – the first European country to gain this status.

Australian PM Morrison achieved a CSP with India in 2020 and set out collaboration across science and technology, maritime issues, defence and more.

CSP deals are a sign that India is become more outward looking and – like everyone else – concerned about the behaviour of China.

The trade and investment package unveiled by the British government contains over £533 million of new Indian investment into the UK, covering areas such as healthcare and technology.

British businesses have also secured new export deals with India worth more than £446 million, which is expected to create more than 400 British jobs.

I hope our Australian trade officials are going through all the detail to see if any deals Australia has with India can now be updated on a deal-by-deal basis.

Covid19 could lead us to a cleaner more innovative world – if we rethink what we do

About seven million people are killed by air pollution every year. The current model of modern society is unsustainable.

Two leading Professors say that looking through a COVID-19 lens provides us an amazing picture outside and shows some innovative pathways on living in harmony with nature, i.e. new-modern society.

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They are Professor Suresh Bhargava, RMIT University, Australia (pictured above) and Professor Seeram Ramakrishnan, National University of Singapore (below).

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Here are some points from their recent paper on the topic:

Contrary to devastating effects, the COVID19 had positive outcomes in terms of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources, and climate change.  Satellite imageries confirm the reduction of NOx, SOx and other pollutants in all cities of the world.

COVID19 provides an opportunity to rethink everything humans do. The current model of modern society is unsustainable. Reversing the clock and going back to pre-modern society built on fulfilling just the needs of humans is not realistic.

Pollution

Sustaining the modern society built on fulfilling the needs and wants of humans requires out of the box thinking. In the current climate of COVID, companies are struggling to survive on top of challenges in industry 4.0 or digitalization of products and services. How will they be able to think about sustainability while their worry is about resilience, and make the necessary adjustments to their business for the long term?

Sustainability has tended to be a secondary priority for many industries and especially SME businesses. Now faced with business survival and viability concerns, what is the status of existing sustainability initiatives in companies and across industries? How has the pandemic affected existing initiatives and longer-term targets, plans and ambitions on the sustainability front?  How can organisations get back on track with regard to their sustainability ambitions e.g. are there synergistic business-led propositions that can serve these aims? What countries can do in terms of sustainability, circular economy and Paris agreement to decarbonize while growing shrink economies and rising employment opportunities?

Using a COVID19 lens, there are opportunities for decarbonisation while not compromising the modern ways of living and economic growth.

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Countries and companies will shorten the supply chains and value chains.  Globalization will take newer form relying more on digital technologies and internet.  This will be facilitated by yet to emerge innovations in finance and commerce.

COVID19 has unexpected effect on food industry. Clean meat is touted as a solution to zoonotic diseases associated with current methods of producing meat from the animals.  Clean meat is made from plant based, cultivated cells.  Hence the carbon footprint is lower than animal sourced meat.

Critics will argue for slow and careful introduction of clean meat to the mass population.  Therein lies huge opportunities for innovations, technologies, new jobs and new pathways of economic growth while caring for the Earth.

Importance of safe water and its adequate supply is highlighted by the COVID19.  Sustainable future lies in the zero-waste water innovations and technologies.

The single use plastic wastes have been identified for their pollution of the marine ecology and subsequent negative effects on the food chain and human health.  Science, business, standards, and policy innovations are needed to replace the petrochemical derived plastics with degradable bioplastics derived from the renewable sources.  Designing products with end-of-life considerations and life cycle engineering opens up opportunities for economy growth and new jobs creation while improving the quality of environment.

The Energy sector is also affected by the COVID19.  Oil futures went into negative. It is an opportune time for the governments to eliminate the fossil fuel subsidies and invest in renewable energy infrastructure as long-term nation building.

Perhaps, governments and companies should together accelerate the electrification of transportation.  New jobs and new economic growth to happen in vehicle design and manufacturing, digitization, as well as charging infrastructure.

COVID19 transformed shopping and brought almost the whole of humanity to on-line shopping.  The on-line shopping for groceries and food deliveries are on par with electronic goods and accessories.

Similarly, work has moved to telework, and the Education moved to on-line learning and assessment.

Digital services for virtual meetings, online learning, telemedical diagnostics, government services, ecommerce, grocery delivery, e-banking, and entertainment all experienced unprecedented growth in demand. The hyper scale data centres with their 24x7x365 resilient operation, are the heart of digital transformation.

Looking to the coming decade, the introduction of 5G will further accelerate the digital transformation era with its clear alignment with Industrial 4.0, in which real time data and automation will power more of the industrial world.

Clear messages emerged from the COVID19 pandemic include, the digital transformation is a necessity to keep society running; mental health is important for the general well-being and productivity of a person; and a healthy living environment is a basic human right.

The circular economy vision, decarbonisation and sustainability efforts mitigate climate change thus create opportunities for sustained economic growth and new jobs creation. 

Amazing research work by the two and continues the innovative and collaborative approaches of my friend Professor Suresh Bhargava – well done!

Bhargava5

 

 

7 ways Australia could build relations with India to balance China

While it is true that India is not just another China, there is a good risk management case for improving Australia’s trade and diplomatic relations with India.

To give energy to this relationship, Australia should take eight urgent steps:

(Keep in mind most of this relates to “post-Covid” but some could action now)

First, we should be flat out campaigning to get more Indian tourists down under. They now have the money, and a campaign for tourism would also communicate our culture to the broader Indian public. Let’s get Australia on the billboards, on the cable TV and in the cinemas in India.

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Second, encourage Bollywood to make more films down under and help them show the diversity of the Australian population and culture.

Third, reinforce our intellectual property and leadership in the twin areas of high demand over there – health and education.

Fourth, take more initiatives to exchange knowledge and services in the waste management and waste disposal fields – we are pretty good in this, with some of the cleanest cities in the world, and India is worried that rubbish is taking over their country.

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Fifth, create ways we can work closer on sustainable energy.

Sixth, make sure Indians are aware of our global leadership in fields such as wealth management, a growing need over there. The best way to do this would be to increase our investment into India.

Seventh, provide cultural training to Australians in all fields who are to visit India, so that our blundering around (which we often see as down to earth and friendly) does not continue to cause offence or confusion among our hosts.

India’s water and waste provide big opportunities for Australian firms

Water and waste management and technologies are in high demand in India.

Funding from the Indian Government and the World Bank is driving new projects.

Local players are doing well – the Water & Effluent Treatment Business of L&T Construction has secured three Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) water management orders from the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC).

According to the company’s statement, under the contracts it will be responsible for ‘Design, Build, Operate, Maintain and Transfer of water supply systems.

Austrade has long been a champion of Australian expertise getting into this sector in India. It says: “The Indian industrial water and waste-water market are going through a shift with recycling and reuse, zero liquid discharge, and online effluent quality monitoring systems becoming mandatory across industries.”

Recycling and reuse of water has been made mandatory for industries and housing projects in some states. Industries across power, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, refineries and textiles and other sectors are gearing to meet stringent pollution norms, leading to increased demand for reliable water and wastewater treatment technologies.

Austrade points to four major opportunities in India:

  • Ganga River Cleaning Project: US$3.5 billion (jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of India) project to focus on river restoration, building sewage treatment infrastructure across 118 towns, village level waste water management, and rehabilitation of existing sewage treatment plants (STPs).
  • National Hydrology Project: US$700 Million (jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of India) project aimed at establishing a hydrologic database and hydrological information system (HIS) for effective water resource planning and management.
  • Groundwater Aquifer Mapping and Management Project: US$1 billion projects aimed at data acquisition through 21,000 exploratory and observatory borewells to be excavated, preparation of aquifer maps and real time groundwater monitoring.
  • Smart Cities Initiative: Water is a significant aspect of the smart cities initiative in India. Projects on urban water supply, recycle and reuse of waste water, smart water meters are in pipeline.

smartcities2

South Australian firm Hydro-dis is one of several Aussie firms active in India – it has snared a role in the Cleaning up the Ganges project.

The company, based in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has developed a new device that provides immediate disinfection, improves the efficiency of metal removal and includes residual chlorine to reduce contamination after treatment.

Post Covid19 could be a good time for a major Aussie push into the water and waste landscape of India – we are good at it, have the expertise and the technology.