First India-Australia Annual Summit

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    In News

    • Recently, the Australian Prime minister visited India to participate in an annual summit.

    Outcomes

    • Both countries  reaffirmed the strength of bilateral ties which are based on the foundation of mutual trust, shared democratic values, common interests and strong people-to-people ties.
    • The First India-Australia Annual Summit led to following outcomes
      • Signing of Audiovisual Co-production Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Australia 
      • MoU Between the Government of Australia and the Government of India on Cooperation in Sports
      • Framing of Terms of Reference for  India-Australia Solar Taskforce
      • Letter of Intent between the Government of India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for Furthering Cooperation in Innovation
      • Resolution of Tax issue on offshore income of Indian firms under the India-Australia Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).

    India-Australia Bilateral Relations 

    • Political: 
      • In 2009, India and Australia established a ‘Strategic Partnership’, which has been further elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020
      • The strength of the relationship can be guaged from the fact that In the past year itself the Prime ministers have met thrice and there have been at least 18 ministerial level exchanges between the two countries .
      • Both the countries cooperate regularly through the following  forums
        • Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers
        • Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue
        • Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission
        • India-Australia-Japan Trilateral Dialogue
        • India-Australia-Indonesia Trilateral Dialogue
        • India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue
        • India-Australia Bilateral Dialogue on Global Cyber Issues
        • India-Australia Maritime Dialogue
        • India-Australia Economic Policy Dialogue
        • India-Australia Dialogue on Disarmament
    • Trade and Investment:
      • India is one of the largest trade partners of Australia with trade worth $ 25 billion in 2022. It has the potential to reach 100 billion.
      • India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) was established in 1989 to enable interaction at a Government and business level on a range of trade and investment related issues.
      • India-Australia CEO Forum is a mechanism for business from both nations to engage directly on ways to build the bilateral trade and investment relationship.  
    • Civil Nuclear Co-Operation :
      • A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between the two countries was signed in 2014. The agreement came into force in 2015 and provides the framework for substantial new trade in energy between Australia and India.
    • Scientific Cooperation:
      • An Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF), which was established in 2006, supports collaboration between scientists in India and Australia on cutting-edge research
      • A Joint Working Group (JWG) for cooperation in Agriculture has been set up
      • Both the countries have agreed to set up task forces on solar photovoltaic (PV) and hydrogen ,which are  critical to Australia and India’s energy transition goals.
      • In 2017, Australia signed a framework agreement for to join the International Solar Alliance, led by the Governments of India and France
    • Defence:
      • Both countries regularly participate in  2+2 Ministerial Dialogue involving defence and external affairs ministers on both sides
      • India and Australia signed a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) to enhance defence cooperation.
      • Australia will host the “Malabar” exercises in August 2023, with participation from India, Japan, and the US.
      • India has been invited to join the Talisman Sabre exercises in 2023.
      • General Rawat Officer’s Exchange Program has been operationalised between two countries 
      • Indian Air force has participated in Exercise Pitch Black, a biennial warfare exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
    • Multilateral Cooperation:
      • India and Australia are members of the Quad, Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), 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 World Trade Organization context.
      • Australia is an important player in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and supports India’s membership of the organisation.
    • Cooperation on Clean Energy:
      • In 2022, Both  countries signed a Letter of Intent on New and Renewable Energy for cooperation to reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies, including ultra low-cost solar and clean hydrogen.
      • India announced Australian Dollars(AUD) 10 million for Pacific Island Countries under the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
      • Both the countries committed USD 5.8 million to the three-year India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership.

    Significance

    • Australia is one of the largest economies in the world (1.72 trillion $ ).
    • It is rich in natural resources that India’s growing economy needs.
    • It is advanced  in higher education, scientific and technological research.
    • Australia is one of the pivots of the Indo-Pacific. Deeper integration between India and Australia will beneficial for the region
    • the Australian agribusiness sector has capacity, experience and knowledge to help India’s food industry 
    • Both countries have increasingly common military platforms as India’s defence purchases from the U.S. continue to grow.

    Challenges

    • Visa issues: There have been concerns over visa restrictions for Indian students and professionals seeking to work in Australia.
    • Violence with Indian Diaspora: Attacks on Indian Diaspora and temples in the recent past has left a bad taste .
    • Trade Issues: India’s trade deficit with Australia has been increasing since 2001-02 due to India- Australia Free Trade Agreement. It was also a contentious issue in the ongoing RCEP negotiations which India left. 

    Way Forward

    India and Australia ties are extremely important for the Indo-Pacific region which is in flux. Strengthening of their relationship  will support international peace, rule of law, development and multiculturalism in the region .  

    Source: MEA