Australian Government will provide $36.6 million over five years from 2021-22 (and$5.2 million per year ongoing) for initiatives to support the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India.
The initiatives will include an expanded diplomatic presence at the Australian Consulate-General, Bengaluru, to deepen Australia’s engagement with India and maximise opportunities for Australian industry in a key commercial hub.
Also included is a Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy to shape technology governance and support an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific, a mid-year budget update by the Australian federal government has revealed.
According to the budget update, India’s GDP is forecast to grow by 8½ per cent in both 2021 and 2022. It says that although the Indian economy experienced a significant setback following a severe Delta outbreak in May, prospects for near-term growth remain sound, with vaccine coverage steadily rising above 60 per cent, food price pressures easing due to a favourable monsoon season, and a supportive fiscal and monetary environment.
Earlier, speaking at an Australia India Institute event, CEO Lisa Singh spoke of the possibility of an ‘early harvest’ agreement between the two counties, by Christmas or early new year. In September, Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan and his Indian counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had raised the prospects of an “early harvest” announcement by December, effectively an interim agreement that would pave the way for a “balanced” and comprehensive agreement in the future.
Lisa Singh said, “There is no doubt that the Australia India relationship at the moment is on a real high. Of course that has been aided by the elevation of the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership that happened last year between prime ministers Morrison and Modi. What that has done is that that has truly cemented ties between our two nations in ways that could not have been imagined decades ago. Whether it is the resumed negotiations on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement and the potential of an early harvest agreement by Christmas or in the early new year; or whether it’s the new closer defence co-operation agreement that we see in the Malabar Naval Exercises or the AUSINDEX; or whether it’s the leadership elevation of Quad; or other groupings we now take part in such as the India-led international solar alliance; of the India-led Infrastructure for Resilient Island States supporting climate change resilience in small Pacific Island states. All of these ideas and initiatives are deepening our relationship every day.”