In a significant development, Australia and India are aiming to strengthen their economic ties with a more comprehensive pact expected to be finalised by the year’s end. Following the signing of India’s first free trade agreement with a developed country in over a decade, Canberra and New Delhi are now working towards an even more ambitious comprehensive economic co-operation agreement.
India’s High Commissioner to Australia, Manpreet Vohra, highlighted the deepening relationship, emphasising India’s commitment to expanding its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Australia-India Institute at Parliament House, he stressed the importance of democratic nations rejecting territorial claims, physical aggression, economic coercion, and political interference, in order to establish an open, free, peaceful, and rules-based region that respects sovereignty.
The High Commissioner underscored the mutual commitment between India and Australia to address shared challenges and explore new opportunities as natural partners, both being robust democracies and thriving economies.
New Delhi’s concerns regarding China’s escalating influence in the region and potential disruptions to maritime order have intensified due to border skirmishes, raising tensions between Beijing and New Delhi. Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts emphasised the growing significance of partnerships in the face of various challenges, such as military build-ups, climate change, and the ongoing repercussions of the pandemic.
Watts stressed the collective responsibility of nations to utilise their combined strength, diplomatic skills, and influence to minimise the risks of misunderstandings and miscalculations, thereby averting catastrophic conflicts. He affirmed the strong and trusted strategic partnership between Australia and India, emphasising its role in enhancing economic resilience and promoting strategic stability within the region.
The upcoming sixth Australia-India leadership dialogue is scheduled to convene in Melbourne in November, marking a significant event in the diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Under the Albanese government, Australian ministers have undertaken a total of 16 visits to India, a testament to the growing bilateral engagements. Among these visits, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese himself has made two trips, highlighting the importance attached to the relationship between the two democracies.
Australia hosts a substantial Indian diaspora, which has grown to approximately one million people, reflecting the vibrant cultural exchange and ties between the two countries.
Economically, the trade ties between India and Australia have flourished, with the two-way trade volume reaching a substantial $46.5 billion in 2022, underscoring the robust economic partnership between the nations.