20 August 2020

The Morrison Government’s failure to deliver on a plan to boost Australia’s economic ties with India has been underlined by fresh trade data showing India’s share of our exports has fallen to a 17-year low.

Two years ago, former Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Peter Varghese handed a landmark 500-page report to the Government with 90 recommendation on how to improve our trade and investment relationship with India.

The report found no single market over the next 20 years would offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India.

But in June this year, the Government admitted to Senate Estimates that it had done remarkably little in response to the report.

Around the same time, Scott Morrison held a “virtual summit” with India’s Narenda Modi that barely touched on the crucial economic relationship.

Official data released this month has underscored the dangers of the government’s lax approach to India and its longer-term failure to adequately diversify Australia’s trading economy.

India’s share of Australian merchandise exports fell to $10.98 billion over the 12 months to June 30, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

That is 32 per cent below the 2018 level when Mr Varghese released his report.

India’s share of Australia’s total merchandise exports is now below 2 per cent, the lowest level since 2003.

Meanwhile, China’s share of Australian exports has risen to a record 48.8 per cent, highlighting our heavy reliance on a single trading partner.

Mr Morrison said in June that Australia’s trade and investment flows with India were “growing and they can grow a lot faster.”

This trade data proves him wrong.