Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on Australian businesses to boost their investments in India and expand trade with the Asian giant.

Mr Modi turned his attention from diplomacy to business when he arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday for the last leg of his historic visit to Australia. He met some of Australia’s richest people at a high-powered business forum attended by mining magnate Gina Rinehart, Visy Industries chairman Anthony Pratt and logistics entrepreneur Lindsay Fox.

In a later speech to about 450 business and community leaders, including cricketers Glen McGrath and Steve Waugh, Mr Modi said that India and Australia were both “strong and resilient economies”.

Big financial players: Gina Rinehart and Treasurer Joe Hockey at a reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Big financial players: Gina Rinehart and Treasurer Joe Hockey at a reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Joe Armao

“We greatly value our relationship with Australia,” he said. “We need your partnership.”

But Mr Modi pointed out that trade between the two countries was still largely confined to a “small basket” of goods, largely primary commodities.

“We need to impart more dynamism and bilateral trade and investments,” he said.

Mr Modi said he expected the “large and growing” Indian community in Australia would help build links between the two countries. He also drew attention to how several Indian companies are making significant investments in the Australian mining sector.

The chief executives’ forum, hosted by Victorian Governor Alex Chernov, involved about 30 business leaders with significant operations in India. Dipen Rughani, president of the Australia India Business Council, said the round table allowed Mr Modi to outline how Australian businesses could work more effectively with the Indian government.

There is concern that growth in trade between the two countries has stalled recently.

Also, the level of Australian investment in India is relatively small compared with value of the trade relationship.

While India is a major Australian export market, trade is dominated by a relatively small number of commodities and services, especially coal, gold and education.

Mr Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years and the business community hopes the trip will help push the economic relationship between the two countries to new level.

The chief executives’ forum was followed by a reception attended by about 450 business and community leaders.

Mr Modi capped off his visit to Australia with a reception at the MCG.