New Delhi: Although the government has put on hold its decision to open up the multi-brand retail sector to FDI amid strong opposition to the move, Australia has said that its big retailers are keen to enter the sector here.
The government has, however, restarted consultations with stakeholders and is taking on the board concerns of agrarian states, raising hopes among prospective foreign investors in the sector.
"We have got some big retail companies, they are watching for this space (investing in India). Absolutely, India would be a great place for investing...," Australian Trade Commissioner to India Grayson Perry told reporters here Monday.
Woolworths, one of the leading retailers in Australia, has a portfolio that spans from food and grocery, liquor, petrol and general merchandise to consumer electronics.
Perry said a number of mid-sized and large Australian firms are looking at India for investments in areas like financial services and infrastructure.
Overall, Indian investments in Australia are in the region of 10 billion Australian dollar (AUD) in sectors like coal, gas and minerals, while investments from that country into India are AUD 3 billion in areas such as infrastructure and education.
When asked if the slow reforms process in India is discouraging Australian companies to invest here, Perry said, "India is a big growth market and Australian companies want to be here. They (investors) are patient and have faith in Indian market."
On Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India, he said, "We have made progress in this regard. The third round of negotiations is expected this year."
India and Australia are in the process of negotiations for concluding an agreement to liberalise trade in goods, services and boost investments.
During the 2010-11 fiscal, the bilateral trade between stood at AUD 22 billion. Both the nations have set a target to take the trade to AUD 40 billion in the next three years.
India, which is Australia's fourth largest trading partner, exports goods like pearls and gems, rotating electric plants and pharmaceutical products to Australia, while imports items like gold, copper ores and concentrates.
Meanwhile, Australia-based University of Wollongong is in the process of setting up a campus at Ahmedabad for facilitating research, development and innovation practices for business growth.
University's Director, Corporate Relations, Craig Peden said, "We are planning to develop University's campus in Ahmedabad this year as there is a huge demand... We have already signed a pact with Gujarat NRE Coke basically for carrying out due-diligence for the project."
The university's research institutes work in fields such as advanced IT, nanotechnology, intelligent materials and super-conductivity.
First Published: Monday, January 30, 2012, 22:47