THE VALUE of trade between India and Australia has increased significantly over the past year and could potentially have doubled by the end of 2023, according to the High Commissioner of India to Australia.

Ambassador Manpreet Vohra shared an update on the countries’ bilateral trade during his address at the Shipping Australia Christmas lunch on Friday.

He said India and Australia are deepening their engagement and friendship, and the shipping industry will play an important role as trade grows.

“Among the foremost of what we have managed thus far was the free trade agreement that we signed last year and that entered into force in December,” he said.

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) came into force on 29 December 2022, eliminating tariffs on 85% of Australia’s exports to India and phasing down high tariffs on a further 5% of goods.

“Trade has already picked up quite remarkably this year and we will be all be pleasantly surprised when we see the full-year figures,” Mr Vohra said.

“The potential of what the analysts tell us is that we would go up to tens of billions of dollars more, so from almost $40 billion now it would go up to double of that.”

He said India’s trade minister hopes to see bilateral trade between the two countries grow to $100 billion by 2030.

“I’m not sure if that can be achieved, but I’m confident that it will be a very high growth rate, which will also then lead to more south to north and north to south shipping requirements, and so great business for the shipping industry.

“I hope that as the India-Australia relationship deepens and grows further, the shipping industry will very much be a part of it and a beneficiary of it.”

Mr Vohra also congratulated local industry stalwart Captain Anil Bhatia on 50 years of service to the shipping industry.

Captain Bhatia, managing director of Ausport Marine, said the past five decades had been “a beautiful journey” and thanked the people who had supported him.

“We all have our ups and downs, but I feel very privileged and blessed to belong to the shipping industry and to the logistics chain,” he said.

And Shipping Australia acknowledged thanked its longstanding director Kevin Clarke, who is retiring later in December after 55 years in the industry, including 35 as managing director of MSC Australia.

Shipping Australia held its 2023 Christmas lunch in the Maritime Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency, Sydney on Friday 8 December.

Other highlights from the event include entertainment from comedian Tahir Bilgiç, lucky door prizes and a lavish three-course meal.