Chandigarh:  In a bid to give fillip to bilateral trade, Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell on Wednesday evinced keen interest to forge collaboration especially in the field of agriculture and skill development with Punjab on the pattern of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Responding to O’Farrell’s proposal, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann assured him of all cooperation and support in this regard so as to propel Punjab in the high growth trajectory by concretizing these plans of mutual interest.

A three-member Australian delegation led by O’Farrell, including Member Parliament Gurmesh Singh and Second Secretary Political Jack Taylor, called on the Chief Minister here.

Apprising Mann about the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IndAus ECTA), O’Farrell said it is the India’s first bilateral trade agreement with a large, developed economy in 10 years, which aims to double two-way trade.

He mentioned that Australia’s goal is to lift India into their top three export markets by 2035 and make it third largest outward investment destination in Asia.

Pointing out further, O’Farrell said Punjab could be immensely benefitted by forging collaboration with Australia especially in the field of agriculture and agro-industry as its progressive farmers have a proven track record of vast experience and expertise in food production.

Taking part in the deliberations, Mann said that Punjabis due to their enterprising and resilience nature have fairly contributed in the overall socio-economic development of all the major countries across the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, the US, Italy, etc.

Mann said: “Punjab has several franchises in the different parts of the world viz. there is a big Punjab in Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, besides a mini-Punjab in the UK”.

The Chief Minister asked the visiting delegation to be in touch with his team of officers headed by his Additional Chief Secretary A. Venu Prasad, who was also present in the meeting, to fructify these proposals of mutual interest between the both sides on the ground.

Expressing gratitude to the Chief Minister, O’Farrell emphasised on the much needed synergy to boost bilateral ties for promotion of trade and business with Punjab.

He assured Mann that their team would also pro-actively engage with Punjab to further strengthen their economic cooperation.

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