I want to begin with expressing my sincere thanks to CII and Australian Trade Commission who have jointly organized todays Summit. It is indeed an honour for me to be here today for interaction with this august and knowledgeable audience.
This Summit, in my opinion, has come at the right time. As you know, a new federal government has assumed office in India under my leader Prime Minister Modi with a decisive mandate for pursuing pro-poor, pro-development and pro-growth agenda.
In the 7 odd months in power, the government has shown firm resolve to take bold and innovative measures to take the country back on to a high-growth trajectory.
A crucial component of our vision for India revolves around Make In India. This is a fresh, exciting concept. In recent years, the manufacturing sector in India had lagged behind the more visible services sector. We recognize that revival of our manufacturing industry can significantly add to our national growth, provide employment to masses and generate revenue.
With this intention, we have launched Make In India. It a new national-level initiative to promote manufacturing industry in India. We want to invite corporations across the world to open their manufacturing facilities in India. Under this program, we have identified 25 sectors for the thrust on Indian manufacturing. Defence manufacturing, Railways, Roads & Highways, Oil & Gas, Mining, Chemicals, Automobile and Biotechnology are the prominent ones among them.
For doing all this, we are determined to create the right fiscal, regulatory and administrative environment that adds to the Ease of doing Business. A number of far-reaching measures have been or gradually being introduced like Single-window clearance, simplified online processes, extended industrial licenses, self-certification, etc.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limits have recently been raised in insurance and defence sectors. The government is working actively on resolving long-pending bottlenecks around coal block allocations and telecom spectrum auctions.
The government is also going out of its way to improve Indias physical infrastructure. We are working on ramping up our railways, highways and ports as well as our telecom and power grids to meet the requirements of Indias growing economy. Recognizing the importance of availability of power, we have set for ourselves an ambitious target of Power For All by 2019.
And, while doing all this, the government is also conscious that growth and development must always take place in a sustainable, environment-friendly manner. I would like to assure the audience that we are committed to make our green laws rational and effective.
Coming to Petroleum & Natural Gas, I am happy to share that we have made some important new beginnings. Diesel price has been completely deregulated and the long-pending domestic gas pricing issue has been resolved.
The Natural Gas infrastructure and City Gas Distribution sector in the country are going to see significant expansion in coming years as Honble Prime Minister has decided to pursue this on Mission Mode and to add another 15,000 km of natural gas pipeline to the countrys pipeline network.
We have also launched Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG or DBTL across the country which is the worlds largest cash transfer program to streamline subsidies.
Friends, India and Australia already have significant ongoing business linkages, notably in the fields of Metals and Minerals, Mining, Energy, Education and so on. I thank people and Government of Australia for the success of Honble Prime Ministers visit to Australia in November. He attaches significant importance to improve relations with Australia.
In my Ministry, I have come across instances of co-operation between Indian and Australian entities in the fields of LNG sourcing and upstream exploration.
We whole-heartedly welcome Australian investments in Indias upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry. India, as you might be aware, permits 100% FDI in upstream exploration sector and we urge Australian companies to invest in Indias hydrocarbon business.
I am happy to note that Petronet LNG Limited has executed a long term Sale Purchase Agreement for sourcing 1.44 MMTPA of LNG from Gorgon LNG Project in Western Australia. BPCL, GAIL and IOCL are the offtakers in this project.
There has been co-operation between Indian and Australian entities in the field of geo-scientific research. ONGC has carried out a Collaborative Research Project on Offshore hydrocarbon exploration in KG Basin with University of Melbourne.
Our companies will be interested in tie-ups with Australian companies for exploration of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) in India, Australia and elsewhere.
ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) would be interested in any exploratory or discovered E&P asset that might be available in Australia.
Major Indian companies like GAIL, BPCL, HPCL and IOCL would be keen to secure equity participation in Australian LNG projects and to source LNG from various planned and upcoming LNG projects in Australia.
I am given to understand that the current trade level between India and Australia is of the order of approx US$ 12 billion. In my assessment, this represents only a fraction of what we can do together. I would say the possibilities of business co-operation between India and Australia are immense.
The Summit today provides an excellent platform for business representatives as well as policymakers from both countries to understand each others perspective for charting out new avenues for business co-operation.
I request you to freely share your ideas and suggestions on what we can do to facilitate and promote India Australia business ties and would like to assure you on governments behalf that we will consider them in right earnest.