PM flags India trade trip to boost Australian business

The Albanese government is working to boost business ties with Asia, including in areas such as finance, education and critical minerals.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will travel to India on March 8 with a 25-person strong business delegation, which includes CEOs of major resource companies.

He said Australia’s standing in the region is gathering speed.

“That will be a very significant gathering, indeed, at the invitation of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi,” he said of the upcoming visit.

“Our relations in the region have never been stronger.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers will also head to India this week to meet with G20 finance ministers.

Mr Albanese is also working to boost the domestic resource sector through a landmark manufacturing fund that would see Australia mine and export critical minerals like lithium, which is needed for batteries.

By positioning Australia as an energy superpower, the economy would also be boosted by “exporting clean energy, green hydrogen, critical minerals and value-added products”.

“Energy security is a pressing global challenge. We can make it a national economic strength if we get it right,” he said.

Asked whether his government would welcome more Chinese investment in the critical minerals sector, Mr Albanese said, “we’ll deal with issues of foreign investment according to the merits of any proposal”.

“Australia has very much a direct interest in making more things here and improving our sovereign capability. That’s my starting point,” he said.

“But we’ll deal with any applications in a mature, reasonable way.”

However the prime minister added that Australia’s security, including economic, would always be protected.

“Why aren’t we making more batteries here? We have almost half of the world’s lithium deposits,” he said.

“We need to not just dig it up. I want to make sure we use the lithium and nickel and other products we have to make batteries here.

“That’s part of the vision of protecting our national economy going forward.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles is in the Philippines discussing the bilateral trade relationship as well as defence force co-operation.

Mr Marles said it was important both nations continued to support freedom of navigation through the South China Sea, a major route for trade.

“It’s deeply connected to our respective national interests that the rules of the road apply in a body of water such as the South China Sea,” he said.

Mr Albanese is also set to meet with senior European business leaders on Friday.

Australia will host the Quad leaders summit in the middle of the year, which will welcome the leaders of the United States, Japan and India.

 

Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)

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