INDIA – AUSTRALIA RELATIONS
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese started his four-day trip to India.
MORE ABOUT AUSTRALIAN PM ALBANESE VISIT
- It is the first trip by an Australian PM to India in six years, and it comes on the heels of Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).
- The Australian PM is accompanied by Australia’s Minister of Trade and Tourism, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and other senior officials.
- The main reason why Australian PM is in India is to deal with a complex geopolitical scenario, majorly involving China, an opponent with whom India has not had good relations in the past few years due border disputes.
RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS AND EXPECTED OUTCOMES
- Modi and Albanese are expected to focus on boosting overall bilateral ties in areas of trade and investment, defence and critical minerals.
- The two leaders are also expected to review the situation in the Indo-Pacific amid growing concerns over China’s increasing military assertiveness in the region.
- The Australian PM is expected to announce deal with Indian companies including KABIL (Khanij Bidesh India Limited) to invest in the rare-earth mineral sector in Australia.
- Australian PM is expected to announce Deakin University’s setting up a physical campus at the free markets GIFT city in Gujarat.
- Australian PM’s visit to India also would strenthen the Quad group which is basically a group of four countries (Japan, India, Australia and US).
- India and Australia are also keen to cooperate in the field of clean energy.
- India and Australia have commercial ties dating back to the 18th century, when India played a central role in nourishing the young colony and trade with Australia came to be an important element in the operations of the East India Company in Bengal.
- The Consulate General of India in Sydney was first opened as a Trade Office in 1941 and the High Commission in Canberra in 1945.
- The Consulate General of India in Perth was inaugurated in October 2011.
- The end of the Cold War and beginning of India’s economic reforms in 1991 provided the impetus for the development of closer ties between the two nations.
- Bilateral mechanisms include high level visits, Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission, India-Australia ‘2+2’ Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, Energy Security Dialogue, JWGs on different issues etc.
- India and Australia co-operate in various multilateral fora. Australia supports India’s candidature in an expanded UN Security Council.
- Both India and Australia are members of the G-20, Commonwealth, IOR-ARC, ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Clean Development, and have participated in the East Asia Summits.
- Both countries have also been cooperating as members of the Five Interested Parties (FIP) in the WTO context.
- Australia is an important player in APEC and supports India’s membership of the organisation.
ECONOMIC AND TRADE RELATIONS
- India is the 5th largest trade partner of Australia with trade in goods and services at A$ 29 billion representing 3.6% share of the total Australian trade in 2017-18, with export at A$ 8 billion and import at A$ 21 billion.
- The Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA), the first free trade agreement signed by India with a developed country in a decade, entered into force in December 2022.
- Bilateral trade was US$ 27.5 billion in 2021; with ECTA, there is potential for it to reach around US$ 50 billion in five years.
OTHER IMPORTANT AREAS OF COOPERATION
- CHINA FACTOR : Ties between Australia and China were strained after Canberra in 2018 banned Chinese telecom firm Huawei from the 5G network.
- India has been facing an aggressive Chinese military along the border. New Delhi and Canberra have been assessing the Chinese challenge since 2013.
- The countries’ participation in Quad is an example of their convergence of interests, based on shared concerns.
- PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE TIES : India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia.
- As per the 2021 Census, around 9.76 lakh people in Australia reported their ancestry as Indian origin, making them the second largest group of overseas-born residents in Australia.
- EDUCATION : The Mechanism for Mutual Recognition of Educational Qualifications (MREQ) was signed on March 2, 2023.
- Deakin University and University of Wollongong are planning to open campuses in India.
- Under the New Colombo Plan of Australian government, Australian undergraduates have studied and completed internships in India.
- DEFENCE COOPERATION : Defence Policy Talks and Service to Service Staff talks are held regularly.
- The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in September 2021.
- The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was concluded during the Virtual Summit in June 2020, and the two militaries held several joint exercises in 2022.
- Australia will host military operations with India, Japan, and the US in the “Malabar” exercises off the coast of Perth.
- Australia has also invited India to join the Talisman Sabre exercises later this year.
- Other important military exercises includes AUSTRA- HIND 22.
- CLEAN ENERGY : The countries signed a Letter of Intent on New and Renewable Energy in February 2022 which provides for cooperation towards bringing down the cost of renewable energy technologies, especially ultra low-cost solar and clean hydrogen.
- During the Virtual Summit in March 2022, India announced matching funds of AUD 10 million for Pacific Island Countries under Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) and of AUD 10 million for Pacific Island Countries under International Solar Alliance (ISA).
SOURCE : THE INDIAN EXPRESS
Syllabus : MAINS, GS-2 : International Relations