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India beckons to WA companies

TRADE opportunities in India are going to boom, says jeweller and prospector Charles Devenish.

“I have a feeling Australians have missed out on India because they are afraid of it,” Mr Devenish said.

He said India’s government was relatively stable and the States seem to be gaining more control of their destiny from the central government.

Mr Devenish said one concern to business was understanding the “morality of India”.

“You need to know how business is done there. Once you understand that you don’t feel a foreigner there,” he said.

“India has been closed off for so long people don’t see the opportunities but I see opportunities there all the time.”

Mr Devenish said everything sold out of India was tax free.

“Furthermore, if you go into ‘backward’ areas you get a tax holiday for five years.”

In 1998 Australian exports to India were worth $2.15 billion and are increasing by 20 per cent per annum. Australia is presently the eleventh largest investor in India.

According to Austrade, emerging markets are in education, telecommunications and film sets for the massive Indian film industry.

Infrastructure development also looms as a major opportunity for WA companies.

Curtin University’s Indian Ocean Centre director Ken McPherson said agribusiness was an exciting opportunity for WA businesses.

“There is the potential for entering into joint

ventures in India or selling packaged goods into India,” Dr McPherson said.

“Supermarket chains are starting to grow. The New Zealanders are already in there. They’ve been very proactive in selling their dairy goods.

“Supermarkets currently only apply to a small part of the Indian population but that’s probably a market the same size as Australia’s.”

India’s private sector is viable and thriving,

contributing 75 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Dr McPherson said there was a lot of government support for privatisation.

“However, people forget there is major over-employment in State industries,” he said.

“Privatisation will cause a big flood onto the labour market. There has to be encouragement for foreign investment in India to bring new jobs. That’s not

coming as quickly as the Indians would like.”

Dr McPherson said private healthcare was another area growing in India – a potential opportunity.

He said joint ventures right across the spectrum of industry offered opportunities.

“It needs companies that are prepared to do their homework and sit things out for a while. It takes a few years to get things going in India,” Dr McPherson said.

Dr McPherson said India had a legal system that worked.

“Its business laws are clearer than in some other countries and it has a slow, slightly old-fashioned banking system that is very solid. It’s very strictly policed. I think that factor is greatly undersold.”

Dr McPherson said while there had been some concentration on Bangalore, the State of Andhra Pradesh and its capital of Hyderabad seemed to be emerging as the go-getter State.

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