2+2’ Ministerial meeting between India and Australia

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    In Context

    • India and Australia will hold the inaugural ‘2+2’ Ministerial meeting during the upcoming visit of Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Minister of Defence Peter Dutton. 

    Major Points 

    • The meeting will be part of Australia’s engagements with regional partners as the Ministers will visit Indonesia, India, South Korea and the United States for Indo-Pacific consultations.
    • These inaugural 2+2 discussions are a cornerstone of the Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which is founded on a shared commitment to a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
    •  The discussion between India and Australia will cover economic issues, bilateral free trade agreement, cyber security, climate change, critical technology, defence cooperation and supply chains

    Recent initiatives were taken by both countries 

    • India and Australia have increased interoperability in the maritime domain in recent months. 
    • Both sides have signed a ‘Joint Guidance for Navy to Navy Relationship Document’
      • Close cooperation in regional and multilateral fora like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and ASEAN are some of the highlights of the document.
      • The document is aligned to the ‘2020 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ agreed by Prime Ministers of India and Australia. 
    • Expanding bilateral defence relations, India and Australia signed a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. 
    • Australia has also deployed a Liaison Officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) as part of joint maritime efforts.
    • India and Australia also have to deal with the disruption in people to people contacts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    India-Australia Relations

    • Diplomatic
      • India and Australia established diplomatic relations in the pre-Independence period, with the establishment of the India Trade Office in Sydney in 1941
      • The end of the Cold War and simultaneously India’s decision to launch major economic reforms in 1991 provided the first positive move towards the development of closer ties between the two nations. 
    • Strategic
      • Australia looks at India as an important partner in promoting regional security and stability.
      • This led to upgradation of the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership, including a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2009
    • Bilateral Engagement
      • Bilateral mechanisms include high-level visits, Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, Joint Trade and Commerce Ministerial Commission, India-Australia ‘2+2’ Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, etc.
    • Multilateral Engagement
      • Both countries have close cooperation in multilateral fora like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and G20.
      • The Quadrilateral Framework (QUAD) of India and Australia along with the US and Japan emphasise the collective resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
    • Bilateral Trade
      • India is the 5th largest trade partner of Australia with trade in goods and services at Australian Dollar 29 billion representing 3.6 per cent share of the total Australian trade in 2017-18, with export at AD 8 billion and import at AD 21 billion. 
      • India’s main exports to Australia are refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles including hover-trains, pearls, gems, jewellery, made up textile articles.
      • India’s main imports are coal, copper ores and concentrate, gold, vegetables, wool and other animal hair, fruits and nuts, lentils and education-related services.
      • India Australia Circular Economy (I-ACE) Hackathon 2021 was an effort to strengthen bi-lateral innovations in the Circular Economy.
    • Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
      • It was signed between the two countries in September 2014 during the visit of the Australian Prime Minister to India.
      • The Australian Parliament passed the Civil Nuclear Transfer to India Bill 2016 which ensures that Uranium mining companies in Australia may fulfil contracts to supply Australian uranium to India for civil use.
    • Defence
    • In 2014, both sides decided to extend defence cooperation to cover research, development and industry engagement and agreed to hold regular meetings at the level of the Defence Minister conduct regular maritime exercises and convene regular service-to-service talks
    • The first-ever Bilateral Maritime Exercise, AUSINDEX, was conducted in Visakhapatnam (Bay of Bengal) in September 2015.
    • In 2018, the Indian Air Force participated for the first time in the Exercise Pitch Black in Australia.
    • INS Sahyadri participated in Kakadu, the biennial exercise of the Australian Navy held in 2018, in which 27 nations participated. 
    • The 4th edition of AUSTRAHIND (Special Forces of Army Exercise) was held in September 2019.
    • Environment
      • It is an area where there is great opportunity for India and Australia to work together since both countries had similar commitments.
      • The flagship program of National Innovation for Climate Resilient Agriculture and collaboration with the research organisations of Australia.
    • Indian Community
      • The Indian community in Australia continues to grow in size and importance, with a population of nearly half seven lakhs.
      • India is now the third-largest source of immigrants to Australia, after the UK and New Zealand and the largest source of skilled professionals for Australia.
      • There is a  constant flow of students and tourists from India
      • The growing significance of the community is reflected in the large-scale celebration of Indian festivals in Australia, especially Deepawali.

    Source: TH