UQ Chancellor takes lead role in Australia-India trade plan


University of Queensland Chancellor Peter Varghese has been appointed to formulate a new strategy for Australia’s trade with India.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced during his visit to Mumbai that he was commissioning a study to form an India Economic Strategy.

“It will explore how to strengthen existing economic collaboration, while identifying new ways to do business together,” Mr Turnbull said.

He said Mr Varghese – “one of Australia’s most capable and agile minds” – would lead the study.

Mr Varghese has served as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and as High Commissioner to India.

Mr Peter N Varghese AO, UQ Chancellor, stands in front of sandstone columns.
Mr Peter N Varghese AO, UQ Chancellor

Mr Turnbull said the strategy was not about Australia discovering India, but about cementing India as a priority economic partner.

“It will identify how Australia’s extensive reform experience can best support India’s economic reform agenda and modernisation.

“And it will recommend new ways to maximise mutual benefits, including by engaging at the sub-national level – we recognise that many Indian states have globally significant economies in their own right, enormous economies and populations in their own right.”

Mr Turnbull said Mr Varghese had a deep understanding of the relationship of the two countries and extensive experience in a senior leadership role in Australian public life.

“The strategy will look beyond the immediate horizon,” Mr Turnbull said. “It will provide a plan to unlock the opportunities that will help us grow together, with a map that will guide our partnership through to 2035.”

He said Mr Varghese and his colleagues would work closely with India in developing the new strategy.

Mr Varghese said the education relationship between Australia and India had so far been dominated by migration objectives.

“Now we must broaden this relationship into an education partnership and the Group of Eight universities has taken an important step in that direction,” Mr Varghese said.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj, who is chair of the Group of Eight universities, is co-chairing a taskforce with Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay director Devang Khakhar.

The taskforce is working to develop research links between India and Australia, and to foster two-way traffic among doctoral researchers in both countries. It is due to report this year.


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