"Working with India to have our lamb enter this massive market is exactly the sort of cooperation we are seeking with the countries of Asia to drive Australia's prosperity," Trade minister Craig Emerson said of the development.
As FoodNavigator-Asia reported last month, Emerson had recently been in India for talks with his local counterpart on the trade and investment relationship between the two countries.
India is Australia's fourth largest export market and the two-way trading relationship currently stands at around A$18bn.
So far, only small quantities of frozen and chilled lamb have been allowed into India since an agreement on food safety requirements was finalised at the end of last year.
Emmerson said the breakthrough had come when Indian authorities agreed to recognise Australia's own system of licencing abbatoirs rather than sending out their own inspectors, a long and expensive process.
The deal will be especially pleasing for Emmerson, whose government role doubles as the minister assisting the prime minister on “Asian Century” policy. He is often on hand when Canberra has something to say about India, China, Thailand or Malaysia, and is frequently heard to bang the drum for Australian trade links to the continent.
Now he has secured the lamb deal with Delhi, his next mission is to promote Australia as a “world superpower in clean, green food exports”, although he has warned that this is unlikely to happen without sizeable Chinese investment.
Emerson told delegates this week at an agricultural conference in Canberra that it was "absolutely stupid" to suggest Australia's farming sector could reach its full potential without foreign investment.
"It would be a betrayal to Australia's national interest if any political party sought to put up the shutters to foreign investment in Australian agriculture and the great opportunities that provides," he told the Outlook 2013 conference by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Research Economics and Sciences (Abares).
Emerson said Chinese investment was the "next generation" to follow British, American and Japanese interests in Australia, adding that Australian farmers had a “once in a generation” opportunity to become world leaders in premium products.
"To imagine that this can be achieved without foreign investment is stupid," he warned.
"We cannot have unchallenged the debate going on in Australia that there should be a stop sign put up to Chinese investment in Australian agricultural production."