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Australia launches networking to connect business people during Commonwealth Games

New Delhi, Sep 30 (Calcutta Tube) Australia Tuesday launched here a networking initiative that has generated deals worth over $1.7 billion internationally since 2000 to connect business people from down under and the host nation during the Commonwealth Games.

A programme of the Australian Trade Commission, Business Club Australia (BCA) will provide a platform to businesses from both countries during the Games from Oct 3-14. It would hold 22 events across key sectors such as agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, education and mining.

This format of having business meetings around mega sporting events was developed during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and Australia has continued to tap networking opportunities provided by others like the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, the Beijing 2008 Olympics and the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

‘BCA has a proven track record of turning the excitement of high profile sporting events like the Commonwealth Games into long-term profitable business connections between Australia and the host nation,’ Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese told reporters.

The BCA model of networking will be the first for India.

‘Since its inception, the programme has connected 36,500 international business people. Over 2,000 Australian and Indian business executives will be involved, which will directly assist our bilateral economic relations,’ said Varghese.

About 47 Australian companies are delivering contracts worth A$83 million ($79.7 million) for the Commonwealth Games, providing a range of services such as broadcasting, design of Games venues, IT consultancy, security, logistics and coordinatioin of the Queens Baton Relay.

Two-way trade was worth over $20 billion in 2009, more than double from the $9.8 billion four years ago.

‘India is one of Australia’s fastest growing trading partner.’

Asked when would the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries fructify, the high commissioner said feasibility studies that were conducted by both sides were almost complete.

According to Varghese, the feasibility study indicated that an FTA could increase India’s gross domestic product by up to A$48.3 billion ($46.4 billion) and Australia’s by up to

A$45.5 billion ($43.7 billion) over the next 20 years.

‘I hope by end of this year or early next year, we might be able to commence negotiations.’

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