Mr Hans-Jörg Hörtnagl, Commercial Counsellor & Trade Commissioner, Austrian Embassy and Head of Advantage Austria responded to questions from Diplomatic and Business Editor Yogesh Sood on a number of questions.

By Yogesh Sood

Austria and India have long established trading and commercial ties. Please take us a bit through this history…

One of the earliest European companies to establish a presence in the Indian market was the Austrian-based Ostend Company, founded in the 18th century. This trading company played a significant role in facilitating trade between Austria and India, particularly in the exchange of goods like spices and textiles. Today’s trade relationship has shifted from consumer goods towards engineered goods. Ever since the early 2000s Austrian companies have particularly been active in the fields of infrastructure as well as machinery and components for the Indian manufacturing sector. In recent years Austria has increasingly been importing engineered goods from India such as Smart phones or two-wheelers.

The Austrian Trade Commission in India officially represents the Austrian business community in India. Please tell us about its charter and objectives…

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA is the trade promotion organisation of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. Our aim is to help Austrian companies establish business ties in India and all other South Asian states. We are one of 70 foreign offices of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and for over 40 years we have been the official representative of the Austrian business community in India.

We promote trade relations between Austria and India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka and provide investment and economic cooperation. We also put you in touch with potential agents, cooperation partners and exporters in Austria.

Please shed some light on the high-level business visits from Austria to India that have taken place in recent times…

A diverse range of high-level delegations regularly visit India. Just recently, a delegation around smart and green cities visited Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, meeting government officials and a range of company representatives. As innovation is also a cornerstone of our work, we have had both incoming and outgoing startup delegations. At the end of November, the next startup delegation from Austria will join us for an intensive week that includes participating in the Bengaluru Tech Summit.

Please let us know about bilateral trade and business, and the extent of imports and exports from India and vice versa.

Bilateral trade continues to grow beyond EUR 2 billion. India is Austria’s 3rd biggest export market in Asia, with double digit growth since 2021 and before the Covid-19 pandemic. Austrian exports to India are centred around quality, high-tech and sustainability, where a large share is machinery and transport equipment (40%), manufactured goods (22%) and chemical products (16%). Austrian exports in railway, hydro energy and smart city solutions have particularly benefited from investments into modern infrastructure in India. Furthermore, companies providing the newest manufacturing and testing technologies saw their sales increase significantly.

What are the main sectors that Indian businesses can look at when it comes to investing in Austria?

Austria is a terrific entry point for Indian companies wanting to set up in Europe, even more so after the United Kingdom left the European Union. Geographic and historical ties allow for ideal access from Austria to all German speaking markets as well as Central and Eastern European countries. Furthermore, the wide availability of highly qualified employees combined with strong framework conditions make Austria a primary investment destination particularly for R&D intensive companies.

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