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AUSTRALIA has delivered a blunt message to India that it is selling education, not visas, even as the Rudd government deploys its most senior ministers to patch up relations damaged over a series of Indian student assaults.

Trade Minister Simon Crean, whose visit to India this week overlaps that of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, outlined to the Confederation of Indian Industry yesterday federal government measures to crack down on shonky education and training providers in Australia.

But he said the crackdown could be successful only if similar action were taken in India to close down shonky education and immigration agents running scams to secure permanent Australian residency through student visas.

“Let’s be clear, we are offering a quality education in a safe environment,” Mr Crean said yesterday. “The quality of our education is what we are promoting, not the visa attached to it.

“For this to succeed, we also need the co-operation of the Indian government. The fact that politicians in both countries have been forced to focus on the issue improves the odds of coming up with a better system.”

Ms Gillard is understood to have delivered a similar message during meetings with Indian Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal and, late on Tuesday night, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, where greater engagement between the two countries on defence, energy and climate change were also discussed.

Mr Crean denied Australia’s international education industry needed to be remarketed in India, despite the fact it is widely seen — and in some areas promoted — as a pathway to permanent residency.

But he conceded better co-operation between Australian government agencies was also needed to help stem student visa abuses.

What the student issue has done is shed a light on the importance of interaction between Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and those that market our services in the Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations in the protection of our brand,” he said yesterday.

In just eight days, India will have hosted three of Australia’s most senior politicians, Mr Crean, Ms Gillard and Wayne Swan.

By the end of the year, a total of eight Australian ministers will have graced Indian soil.

The ministerial offensive is aimed at patching bilateral relations, damaged by a recent series of attacks on Indian students in Australia, as well as building trade relations with the emerging Asian superpower.

Mr Crean, who is in India for a two-day meeting of G20 trade ministers ahead of the next Doha round of WTO talks in Pittsburgh later this month, said Australia’s trade relationship with India had historically been “underdone”.

The ministerial visits — which will culminate in a tour by Kevin Rudd later this year — were designed to correct that.

“We understand the fundamental importance of India to our future, just as we do China and the rest of Asia. This is going to be the fastest-growing region in the world for the next couple of decades, it is the place to be,” he said. “Australia fortunately positioned itself for that a couple of decades ago but we have to renew the effort.

“Obviously, if there is a hiccup in the relationship, as there has been here over student safety, of course we have to address it. Visits here are an important part of that.”

Canberra hopes that a successful culmination of the Doha talks — aimed at reducing international trade barriers — will help accelerate free trade agreement negotiations between Australia and India, still at the feasibility stage.

It was also concentrating on building trade ties in infrastructure and energy security areas, with particular focus on investments in gas and coal.

Mr Crean denied that Australia’s refusal to sell uranium to India — a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — would hurt the progress of the talks, despite Mr Singh again raising the issue during his meeting with Ms Gillard.

Source  :  The Australian

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G’dayUK 2009 is a series of events positioning Australia as an innovative and thriving economy. The aim is to encourage British companies and1201173161413australia-flag consumers alike to take another look at Australia as a great place to invest in, work, holiday, do business with and generally get to know.

By highlighting the unique range of skills, resources and opportunities offered by Australia, the heavy-weight burst of activity aims to reinforce business and consumer partnerships between the two nations by focusing on four main areas: trade & investment, food & wine, migration and tourism.

Whilst G’dayUK has a serious message, the week will also be a vibrant celebration of uniquely Australian products, people, places, businesses, skills and attitude and an invitation for the British to get involved. A stellar cast of well-known Australians, including politicians, business leaders, artists, winemakers and chefs will showcase Australia as a modern, energetic and desirable business and leisure destination.

G’dayUK 2009 is supported by the New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian, Victorian and Western Australian State Governments, Australian Trade Commission, Qantas and Tourism Australia in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wine Australia, Australian Business and kselfridgesey private sector sponsors.

G’Day UK 2009 is a chance for Australian celebrities, governments, businesses and agencies to show off the sunshine in Australia.

Two week’s worth of events will showcase Australia as a place of investment, tourism, business, and more importantly, as a prime destination for skilled migrants.

The G’Day UK Week will begin with a Manchester Migration Open Day on the 21 June, and will end with tasting premium Australian wines and Australian-themed food and wine menus cooked by Michelin-starred chefs on the 4 July in Selfridges, Oxford Street, London.

All information at http://www.gday-uk.co.uk/events

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