Australian businesses and higher education suppliers will have “greater access” to the Indian market, the Australian government said as the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement came into force on December 29.
“Australia and India are natural trading partners – this agreement will unlock the enormous potential in our trading relationship,” Australian minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell, said in a statement.
“This agreement reflects the government’s commitment to diversifying exports and strengthening our partnerships,” he added. An interim free trade agreement was signed in early 2022.
The agreement will also unlock deeper economic and social benefits, according to Universities Australia.
“Universities fully support the government’s focus on growing our relationship with India, which has come on in leaps and bounds,” chief executive Catriona Jackson said.
“India wants to educate 500 million students by 2035”
“India wants to educate 500 million students by 2035. Our world-class universities are ready to help India meet their goal, giving as many people as possible the educational opportunities they deserve.”
It will also strengthen deep education and research ties for the benefit of both countries, she continued.
“With more than 450 formal partnerships in place between our universities and around 70,000 Indian students studying in Australia, we have a strong platform to build from. We can and must do more.”
The agreement was also welcomed by the independent skills training and higher education sectors.
“There are strong economic and societal benefits for Australia through improved access to the adult Indian education sector, and ITECA members look forward to developing the collaborative relationships in India to bring these to fruition,” said Troy Williams, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia chief executive.
India accounts for some 70,616 student enrolments for independent skills training providers (99.2% of total Indian skills training student enrolments) and 18,121 enrolments for independent higher education providers (32.0% of total Indian higher education student enrolments), the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report found.
“ITECA looks forward to working with both the Australian and Indian governments to ensure that the benefits of IA-ECTA deliver the outcomes for both Indian students and Australian independent tertiary education providers,” Williams said
“Some providers continue to do it tough, and student visa processing issues continue. We’re hopeful that IA-ECTA will help in the rebuilding phase and leverage Australia’s world-class education system, our liveable cities, multicultural society and student protection mechanisms.”
The agreement will also support tourism and workforce needs in regional Australia, the Australian government added. Some 1,000 Work and Holiday Program places will be made available to young Indian travellers.
In the middle of 2022, India and Australia sought to bolster education ties as the latter faced shortages of some 500,000 skilled workers.
“More skilled workers and more research and development is what we need to keep pace in a changing world, and universities here and in India can help with that,” Jackson added.
“Education is already our largest services export and closer connections with India will only boost the significant contribution it makes to our economy and social cohesion.
“We look forward to working closely with the Australian and Indian governments to achieve the best outcomes for universities and our nations under this agreement.”