22 May 2020

Key points

  • The Indian Government has announced a A$400 billion stimulus package equal to 10 per cent of GDP aimed at making the country more self-reliant. The relief package targets SMEs; migrant workers, small farmers and the poor; farming and food processing; and minerals, energy, industry and infrastructure.
  • The Sri Lankan Government reimposed its 24-hour curfew on May 17 having partially lifted it the week before. Infection rates are still low: Sri Lanka currently has 920 COVID-19 cases.
  • The Bangladesh Government extended its lockdown to May 30 and announced a A$345 million stimulus package. The Government hopes to ease pressure on major industries such as the textile industry and food production.

Supply chain and logistics

  • Bangladesh – A significant disruption in milk distribution has had unanticipated consequences. There is an oversupply of dairy products in villages plus low prices, while in urban areas prices are high and availability is tight.
  • India – Interstate transport (trains, buses and cars) are likely to resume but flights will stay grounded. Meanwhile ports are facing an acute labor shortage and steep logistic costs. There are delays in gaining customs clearance for some containers.
  • India – Delays at Chennai Port are particularly acute. Austrade officials are currently advising Australian companies to exercise caution with respect to the port, considering the congestion. Importers are continuing to clear containers from Australia, but are currently wary of importing more.
  • Sri Lanka/the Maldives – Sri Lanka is a gateway for Australian fresh produce and wine to premium resorts in the Maldives. There has been a significant decline in tourism, and thus the consumption of imported produce in the Maldives. Australian chilled beef and lamb, dairy and fresh horticulture – which often transit via Dubai or Colombo – will likely be impacted.

Resources and energy

  • India – The Confederation of Indian Industry, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry are lobbying the government to reduce import duties on essential raw materials for steel-making. These include coking coal, coke, ferro alloys, zinc, metallurgical and limestone.
  • India – Anticipating increased demand, India’s largest fuel retailer, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), plans to increase operations at its oil refineries. These refineries were operating at 45% capacity in the first week of April. IOC wants to reach 80% capacity by the end of May.
  • India – Indian energy companies have deferred some cargoes and spot bookings; however they have not cancelled any long-term contracts for procuring Liquefied Natural Gas or crude oil supplies.

Infrastructure and construction

  • India – Some Australian infrastructure-services firms with offices in India may benefit from the Government announcement that tenders worth under A$40 million will no longer be open to overseas bidders. To bid for sub-A$40 million tenders, Australian firms without local offices will have to find strong local partners or establish a local subsidiary in India.
  • India – The Indian government has extended its bid submission deadline for the fourth set of road auctions to July 31. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) suspended toll operations on March 25. Although toll operations resumed on April 20, traffic remains at about 40% of the usual level.


  • Bangladesh – Evening courses delivered at public universities are becoming money spinners. Dhaka University, which is Bangladesh’s top public university, earns A$12 million per year from such courses. Austrade officials report that Australian universities interested in delivering professional or industry-specific courses may find partnering opportunities. 
  • India – In the south, the state government of Tamil Nadu is increasingly interested in digital learning platforms. To ensure students at state boarding schools have access to learning material during the lockdown, the state’s School Education Department now has an e-learning portal which aggregates content for Year 1–12 students.

Advanced manufacturing

  • India – Automation and 3D manufacturing is gaining traction in the health sector. Established additive manufacturing companies are receiving interest from research bodies, and automotive and other manufacturers to print parts used in hospitals. These include four-way ventilator splitters, which are being tested across hospitals in India.   
  • India India’s solar industry is keen to explore fresh sources for renewable energy materials, as well as technology, and research and development. India produces the equivalent of 3 GW of solar cells and 10 GW of modules locally, but the country is approximately 80% dependent on China for panels, prefabricated structures, inverters and other components.


  • Bangladesh – While milk isn’t flowing to urban areas, milk powder is – and distribution continues unabated into Bangladesh’s urban areas. This may provide opportunities for Australian milk-powder producers, who are already major suppliers to the Bangladesh market.
  • Bangladesh – Despite a bumper wheat crop, the Bangladeshi government is struggling to secure supplies from Bangladeshi farmers due to disruption in transportation from farms. Instead, private agencies are buying crops directly from farmers. As a result, it is expected that private importers will reduce wheat imports this year, including from Australia.
  • India – India has approved the use phosphine fumigation for malting barley, so Australian exporters may gain fresh access. The market is currently in disarray, however. With beer sales hammered, barely procurement is down 20%. Australian producers could position themselves for Q1 2021 when Australia’s harvest will coincide with a drop in local stocks.

Food and modern retail

  • India – Australian brands that sell health & wellness products, premium food and beauty goods are bypassing e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Myntra and engaging consumers directly. Brands such as Swisse, Australia Manuka Life, Capilano, Barnes, San Remo and Melrose are targeting customers directly through creating home pages, including via social media channels like Instagram and tying up with last-mile delivery companies.
  • India – COVID-19 has accelerated moves towards e-commerce in India’s US$500 billion retail market. This creates new opportunities for Australian brands. Austrade in India has recently delivered a series of e-commerce webinars to help Australian brands develop the depth and scope of their online offerings.


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