New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) With the civil nuclear agreement between India and Australia coming into force at the end of last year, the state of South Australia is keen to do business with India in the nuclear energy sector, the state’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Defence Services and Veterans’ Affairs Martin Hamilton-Smith said on Monday.
“India and Australia have a great future in the field of nuclear energy,” Hamilton-Smith, who is currently leading a 100-member delegation of the South Australia Trade Commission (SATC) to India, said at a media interaction here.
Of Australia’s total uranium deposits, 81 percent are in South Australia of which 40 percent are extractable.
“Building nuclear power plants in India will also lead to a cleaner environment,” Hamilton-Smith said.
Though the India-Australia civil nuclear agreement was ratified by the Union cabinet in December last year, uranium supplies from Australia are yet to start.
Asked if this was due to Australian companies’ concerns over India’s nuclear safeguards, Hamilton-Smith replied in the negative.
There are eight areas of focus of the SATC delegation’s mission to India: defence and advanced manufacturing ; water and environment; education and vocational education training; health; premium food and wine, fashion; and sports, culture and tourism.
Stating that India was South Australia’s third largest trading partner, Hamilton-Smith said trade in goods and services between the two sides stood at A$1-1.2 billion (A$1=$0.76) in 2015.
“We sell copper, lead, wheat, food and wine to India and buy diesel, petrol, jewellery and motor vehicles from India,” he said.
In the area of defence manufacturing, he said that South Australia was playing a major role in the A$90 billion worth of submarines, frigates and patrolling that Australia was building for India.
South Australia is considered the national centre of naval shipbuilding and submarine sustainment, home to the Royal Australian Navy’s largest and most complex over the past three decades and confirmed build location for Australia’s next generation warships and submarines.
The SATC delegation, during the course of its visit, also held a meeting with Minister of State for Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre.
Hamilton-Smith said that South Australia also has a lot to offer India in terms of water management technology.
He pointed out that his state was the the driest one in Australia and had faced a serious drought recently.
In the area of education too, South Australia is keen to boost its ties with India.
The minister said that there are around 3,400 Indian students in South Australia forming around three percent of the international students in the state.
“I want to double or even triple that number,” Hamilton-Smith said, adding that South Australia was also a safer alternative to big Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
Apart from New Delhi, the SATC delegation will also visit Jaipur (the Rajasthan capital is the sister city of South Australia’s capital Adelaide), Bengaluru and Mumbai.