Key takeaways from 1st India-Australia Summit and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's India visit
India & Australia have welcomed the sustained momentum in bilateral and multilateral cooperation
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has just completed what has been a highly productive visit to India from March 8-11. During the visit, he participated in the 1st India-Australia Summit along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on March 10. He also visited Ahmedabad and Mumbai during his first bilateral tour to India.
We take a look at some of the key takeaways from the Summit and the Australian Prime Minister's visit.
ALL ROUND PROGRESS ON A RANGE OF AREAS
"Delighted to meet my friend, PM @AlboMP in Delhi. Our talks focussed on diverse subjects including maritime cooperation, defence, renewable energy, trade and education. Key agreements were also signed today which will boost people-to-people ties between India and Australia," Prime Minister Modi tweeted after the Summit.
Briefing the media on Friday, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Albanese assessed very clearly and noted with great satisfaction, the strong all-round progress across the range of areas including science and technology, strategic and security domain, renewable energy, partnership in critical minerals, trade and economic engagement.
The Foreign Secretary described it as "the full set of progress, comprehensive progress that the two countries have achieved since the relationship was upgraded to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020".
"Welcoming the sustained momentum in bilateral and multilateral cooperation, the Prime Ministers agreed that the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was beneficial not only for both countries but also for an open, inclusive, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, where the rules-based international order is upheld," the Joint Statement issued after the 1st India-Australia Summit said.
STRONG ENGAGEMENT ON TRADE & ECONOMY
India-Australia bilateral economic relations have been growing in recent years.
During the Summit, the two Prime Ministers noted the progress made by the two sides on working towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). Prime Minister Albanese expressed the hope that it would be finalised by the end of 2023.
During his briefing, Foreign Secretary Kwatra referred to multiple ways, including in particular through the Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA) since its ratification in December last year, in which the two nations were advancing their trade and investment partnership. He also highlighted the ongoing discussions and negotiations on CECA.
According to the Indian government, ECTA has resulted in immediate reduction of duty to zero on 96% of Indian exports to Australia in value (that is 98% of the tariff lines) and zero duty on 85% of Australia’s exports (in value) to India.
According to the Joint Statement, the Prime Ministers welcomed the convening of the India-Australia CEO Forum and encouraged businesses on both sides to cultivate links; explore emerging economic and investment opportunities, including as an outcome of ECTA; and to leverage the significant complementarities of the two economies.
"They agreed that Australia’s comparative strength in raw materials, critical minerals and innovative research coupled with India’s scale, market size and low-cost manufacturing space can lead to fruitful and mutually beneficial outcomes through partnerships between Indian and Australian companies," the statement added.
During the talks, the two sides also noted the significant progress in the discussions on a Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement which will benefit working professionals as well as students.
GROWING DEFENCE AND SECURITY COOPERATION
Addressing a joint media conference along with the Australian Prime Minister after the India-Australia Summit and delegation-level talks, Prime Minister Modi described defence and security cooperation as an important pillar of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Prime Minister Albanese visited the Western Naval Command Headquarters in Mumbai wherein the Indian Defence Industry at the Indian Naval Station, Kunjali was showcased to him.
While in Mumbai, Prime Minister Albanese also went on board INS Vikrant. According to Foreign Secretary Kwatra, he was the first foreign leader to do so, since the first indigenously built Aircraft Carrier was commissioned last September.
According to Foreign Secretary Kwatra, during their talks, Prime Minister Modi encouraged the Australian Prime Minister to avail of the full range of opportunities that are available in India, through the Make In India initiatives and Atmanirbhar Bharat Program for defence manufacturing.
"Recognising the increasingly uncertain global security environment, Prime Ministers underscored their unwavering commitment to strengthening the India-Australia defence and security partnership to address shared challenges, and work towards an open, inclusive, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific," the Joint Statement said.
The Prime Ministers agreed that, as a practical step, India and Australia may continue to explore conduct of aircraft deployments from each other’s territories to build operational familiarity and enhance maritime domain awareness.
In recognition of India and Australia’s robust maritime partnership, the Prime Ministers welcomed that Australia would host Exercise MALABAR in 2023 for the first time. The Prime Ministers agreed this would bolster interoperability between participating navies, the Joint Statement added.
AGREEMENTS SIGNED BETWEEN INDIA, AUSTRALIA
Four documents were exchanged in the presence of the two Prime Ministers. These were in:
- Audio-visual cooperation.
- Cooperation in sports.
- Cooperation between Atal Innovation Mission and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
- Establishment of two task forces - one on Solar Energy and another on Green Hydrogen.
According to Foreign Secretary Kwatra, the two sides had already put in place an agreement on mutual recognition of educational qualifications between the two countries. This would open up greater opportunities, not just for cooperation in the field of education, but also would facilitate the larger objectives related to migration and mobility of skilled personnel, he explained.