India, Australia should be proud of achievements: Oz Treasurer

     India and Australia should be proud of their achievements in weathering the current global recession, Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan said on Monday during an address at the National Council for Applied Economic Research. "Our financial systems remain strong and our economies have continued to expand. But much remains to be done. And, fortunately we are not alone in our ongoing efforts. India and Australia are two countries who have a lot to learn from each other - and the opportunity to work together - to our mutual benefit," Swan said. "Be it through shared experience of overcoming economic challenges or collective action, particularly within major international forums, we should grab these opportunities with both hands," he added. Swan, who is also expected to meet with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, further said bilateral ties between Australia and India were now at a healthy and growing stage. He said Australia's trade and investment with India has grown rapidly in recent years, making India Australia's fifth largest export destination. He said Australia's trade and investment links with India were worth an average of 12.3 billion dollars over the past five years and in the last year, trade with India grew by almost 45 per cent. This relationship, he said, has been of mutual benefit as Australia provides India with many of the resources and skills it needs to continue developing into a modern and dynamic economy. "The increased economic links between our two countries means that today travel to India by Australian Treasurers and economic ministers is more than just a great pleasure, it's an absolute necessity. Our two nations are now forging a major strategic partnership to promote peace, prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability in our region. And as our region rises to economic leadership in the years ahead, it's a partnership of real significance to the wider world," Swan said. "India is also our largest source of general skilled migrants and almost 100 000 Indian students enrolled to study in Australia last year.Ours is a relationship that is growing in importance and dynamism by the day - as we confront together the difficult global economic situation and continue to reform our economies for the future benefit of our people," he added. "Our survival amidst this global meltdown has a lot to do with the quick and decisive actions of the Government. We have acted without hesitation or reservation to cushion the blow of the worst effects of the global financial crisis on our economy. Like other countries, we have taken a range of measures to support the functioning and stability of our financial system. We also acted quickly and powerfully with three waves of fiscal stimulus to raise aggregate demand and support jobs," he said. Acknowledging India for hosting a Trade Ministers' meeting last week to further the progress of the WTO - Doha Round negotiations, he said it was very encouraging to see India quickly re-engage in the Round. As hopefully one of our biggest future customers and suppliers, India's prosperity will also contribute to our prosperity. "Australia and India should work together drawing strength from strength. Our two nations have much to contribute to the world's economic decision-making forums. I am confident that our bilateral relationship of economic cooperation will only grow," he concluded.

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