My question is to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister outline how the Australia-India comprehensive strategic partnership will benefit Australia economically, especially regional agricultural and mining communities in their post-pandemic recovery?
Senator BIRMINGHAM (South Australia—Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:54):
I thank Senator Canavan for the question and for his longstanding commitment to the deepening of the Australia-India relationship. I acknowledge his work as part of the many pieces of the puzzle that led, as Senator Payne has outlined to the chamber already, to the successful signing of the comprehensive strategic partnership between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Morrison last week and has helped to drive India to the point of being Australia's fifth-largest export market. It is a significant relationship for us nowadays.
I was thrilled earlier this year, in February, to lead a delegation of some 60 businesses, 20 universities and 10 peak industry and research organisations to India, focusing across different fields of food and wine, agribusiness, resources, education, infrastructure and tourism. It reflected very much the fact that in 2019 Australia's resources and energy exports to India were worth almost $13 billion, with metallurgical coal feeding India's ambitious steel manufacturing targets as well as amounts of gas, gold and copper, helping to fuel India's development and supporting Australian industries.
Our government is equally delivering on growth strategies in the agricultural sector, with training on biosecurity treatments to improve the flow of agricultural products between our two countries. The Australia-India Council has funded Pulse Australia to produce regular guidance notes to better forecast Indian demand for agricultural commodities, and we're developing a grains partnership. We've extended the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, with $15 million through to 2023-24 to pursue deeper economic engagement through collaboration in science and innovation. This includes sharing our mining equipment, technology and services expertise in the Indian market, once again helping to grow our economy and India's economy as part of a strong strategic and mutually beneficial partnership.
Senator Canavan, a supplementary question?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (14:56):
How will the partnership with India help grow our nation's rare earths industry?
Senator BIRMINGHAM (South Australia—Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:56):
The coalition government takes very seriously the development of Australia's critical minerals industry. Senator Canavan more than anybody else in this place, I'm sure, has contributed to that focus, including the joint announcements he made in the development of Australia's Critical Minerals strategy and the new financing measures to help build the critical minerals sector. Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India includes an MOU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of critical and strategic minerals to increase the flow of trade, investment and R&D in critical minerals, including rare earths. We've taken a significant step towards establishing ourselves as a reliable supplier of the critical minerals needed to grow India's manufacturing sector and its defence and space capabilities as we seek to grow our own. The Critical Minerals Facilitation Office is regularly engaged with its Indian counterparts to highlight Australia's potential as a reliable supplier of rare earths elements, and the MOU will strengthen that ongoing dialogue and trade. (Time expired)
Senator Canavan, a final supplementary question?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (14:57):
How will expanding our trade relationships with other markets help secure long-term and well-paying jobs for regional Australians?
Senator BIRMINGHAM (South Australia—Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:57):
The opening up of Australia and the expansion of our trade relationships has helped to fuel the very strong jobs and economic position that Australia was in going into the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will be crucial to our success and our rebuilding and our coming out of these circumstances. Around one in five Australian jobs now depends on trade, and under our government we have seen an increase of more than 18 per cent in the number of Australian businesses who export goods to the world. Equally, there is strong growth in the services sector. In both of these areas we see real potential for stronger growth in the India relationship.
Our grains industry, our red meat industry and our sugar industry all appreciate the importance of the international rules-based system and the opening up of those markets. If we look at Senator Canavan's home state, beef exports from Queensland have increased by 40 per cent in the past five years. Fruit and nut exports from Queensland have gone up significantly, as well as horticulture and others, all as a result of these strong trade relationships. (Time expired)