Jim Varghese Executive Director for Business Development at the Australia India Institute has declared the second national energy and resources forum held in Perth on March 17th a very encouraging success.
Despite the downturn in energy and mining the forum attracted over 90 participants from key corporations in the energy and mining sector.
A keen interest in the potential of India to rival China as a premier export destination for energy and resources was evident at both the forum and the dinner function which featured Mr Andrew Forrest, Chairman Fortescue Metals Group.
The forum was given an upbeat assessment on the emerging West Australian economic relationship with India from WA Treasurer The Hon Mike Nahan MLA who highlighted the importance of Australia 's Indian diaspora in cultivating and enhancing the economic and social relationship with India. Treasurer Nahan recently returned from a trade mission to Andhra Pradesh and stated he was encouraged by the growing trade between West Australia and India.
A lively exchange between AII Fellow Dr Ashok Sharma's research paper showing 25% of India's energy in the future could be nuclear, generated a healthy debate with India's Consul General Amit Kumar Mishra who was skeptical about the future sizing of nuclear power in the market. The potential for exporting uranium was welcomed by Vanessa Guthrie, CEO of Taro Energy. Ms Guthrie pointed to the success Australia has achieved in managing to cross significant hurdles to be in a position to export uranium - she remains optimistic about growing the export of uranium trade.
On the ground, comments and stories about doing serious business in India was shared in an engaging panel session with Omesh Motiwalla (Partner Deloitte), Mukund Narayanamurthi (CEO Asia link Business) and Arvind Mishra (CEO of India Resources).
The highlight of the forum, guest speaker Andrew Forrest, shared his personal insights about India and engagement with India. Mr Forrest praised business support and the focus of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Forrest believed that it was an opportune time for Australia to develop a sharper energy and resources focus by bringing Australia, China and India in to our national mindset. Mr Forrest felt India was now to Australia where China was 15 years ago. He said that such a tripartite approach may help the CEO forum hosted by the Prime Ministers of Australia and India deliver more effective on the ground economic outcomes.
Mr Forrest also urged his audience to embrace and champion human rights issues such as modern day slave labor that some corporations around the world engage in.
Both Jim Varghese and AIBC National President Dipen Rugani were encouraged that quality forums on key sectors of the Australia India relationship could be so effectively delivered through a consortium of sponsors including the Commonwealth Bank, Asia Link, Deloitte, Aurizon supported by the West Australian government, Austrade and DFAT