India and Australia Shore Up Ties to Mitigate Risks

Indian PM Narendra Modi travelled to Australia at the personal invitation of Australian PM Anthony Albanese on 22-24 May 2023. The two leaders had just met at the #G7 Summit in Hiroshima and Modi had also co-hosted a Pacific Island Nations Summit in Papua New Guinea,

Both countries are members of the Quad which China perceives as an ‘antagonistic clique’ bent on undermining its interests in the #IndoPacific. India and Australia have had rocky relations with China in recent years and are seeking ways to mitigate geopolitical risks.

Currently, India is Australia’s 6th largest trading partner with bilateral trade volume reaching AUD 46.5 billion in 2022. In an effort to boost trade, India and Australia initiated negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) back in May 2011. Nine rounds of negotiations took place until 2016 when talks were put on hold pending the outcome of certain regional plurilateral #FTA.

In September 2021, India and Australia reignited the CECA negotiations with the aim to quickly arrive at an interim Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) as a stepping stone to a more comprehensive FTA. Thus, the ECTA was signed on 2 April 2022 and entered into force on 29 December 2022.

Virtual Signing Ceremony of India-Australia ECTA

During the current visit of Modi in Australia, both parties took stock of how the ECTA is working out and expressed the wish to further facilitate and fuel trade between the two countries. India is poised to grow into the 3rd largest economy in the world and the potential for economic cooperation is huge.

In the same vein, India and Australia announced a migration agreement to promote and structure Indian migration into Australia. Since 2016, Australia has welcomed more than one million new immigrants and nearly one quarter originates from India. To formalize the migration process, a new scheme call MATES — which stands for Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early Professionals Scheme — has been tailor-made for India.

The Indian Australian Diaspora Foundation (IADF) rallied some 20,000 people of Indian origin who were extremely eager to get a meet and greet the most powerful and popular PM that India has had in contemporary history. Australian PM Anthony Albanese pointed out that his counterpart Modi received a rock star treatment at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney which surpassed that of Bruce Springsteen. Albanese even dubbed Modi as ‘The Boss’, sending waves across the Indian Ocean all the way to the shores of the Subcontinent.

“The Indian Community in Australia is a ‘living bridge’ between India and Australia.”

Indian PM Narendra Modi

Both countries also agreed to explore cooperation in the field of #CriticalMinerals which are essential for the #EnergyTransition. In addition, India and Australia have set up an Australia-India Green Hydrogen Task Force (AIGHT) to accelerate the migration toward #NetZero.