Guwahati: To boost trade with India from USD 15 billion at present, Australia is exploring investment opportunities in the areas of mining, tourism, education, food processing and organic farming in the Northeast.
Citing trade with China, which stands at USD 160 billion, Australia's High Commissioner to India Patrick Suckling told reporters here that it presents a huge opportunity for the Australian companies.
"The bilateral trade between India and Australia is expected to grow manifold in next 20 years," Suckling said.
He, however, declined to put a number on the expected rise in bilateral trade in the next five years.
Suckling said the major sectors for growth of bilateral trade will be mining, education and skill development, agriculture and tourism among others.
"There is a big enthusiasm for (Narendra) Modi government and people are exploring possibilities to invest in India. Around 450 Australian companies came to India earlier this year and they want to be a part of the growth story here," Suckling said.
As part of the process to explore newer areas and region for investment by the Australian firms, the High Commissioner is currently on a visit to the Northeastern region.
"I am visiting the Northeast to study and explore investment possibilities for our companies. So far, I have talked with Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Assam. My next stop will be Manipur," he added.
The envoy said the priorities of the governments in this region are management and utilisation of water, agriculture, irrigation, dairy, education and skill development.
He added that mining, tourism, food processing and organic farming could be other areas of interests for Australian companies in Northeast.
"Assam is growing very positively. In Assam, there is a very serious need of having better connecting roads, making transport hubs, urban planning and water management systems," he said.
The envoy said the importance of the region will grow manifold if trade-ways open up via ports in Bangladesh and through Myanmar to other South Asian nations.
Suckling said the mindset of Northeast is open for having Australian investments in the region, but there are "some sentimental issues regarding the tribal people and land".
When asked if he had any discussion on the contentious land acquisition issue for setting up industries, Suckling said he had "only general discussion" with the Chief Ministers and "no detailed discussion on land" took place.
"Nationally, everyone, including all political parties, has agreed that you need land for growth. But it should be acquired considering all the stakeholders," he added.