Aiming to give new impetus to India – Australia ties, the Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull made his first-ever official visit to India. In addition to meeting the Indian dignitaries, and holding delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Turnbull visited Mumbai for interaction with captains of Indian industry.
Australian PM | Highlights of the visit
- During the Australian PM visit, the two sides inked six Memoranda of Understanding on combating international terrorism and transnational organized crime; climate change and wildlife protection; health and medicine; civil aviation security; space technology, and sports. Hence, Turnbull’s visit demonstrated the growing convergence in national priorities of India and Australia, which are working closely in fighting multiple common challenges ranging from terrorism and piracy to climate change and pollution.
- Both India and Australia have been victims of terrorism in their territories and elsewhere. Showing their firm resolve to fight the menace, the two sides inked MoU on cooperation in combating terrorism. Stressing on the need to take urgent steps to counter and cap the spread of radicalism and terrorism, they emphasised on the need for greater understanding and coordination among the intelligence, law enforcement, and security agencies.
- India-Australia cooperation in civilian nuclear energy holds immense significance as it would help fight climate change in addition to helping India meet its energy demands. In that context, Prime Minister Modi appreciated the passage of the Civil Nuclear Transfers to India Act in the Australian Parliament. Commercial export of Australian uranium to India is likely to commence soon.
- Appreciating India’s efforts to cap climate change and pollution through International Solar Alliance, Turnbull expressed Australia’s willingness to join the alliance.
- MoU on health and medicine, and sports cooperation, signed during Turnbull’s visit, have the potential to add a strong dimension to India-Australia cooperation. India could learn a lot from Australian best practices in these fields.
Australian PM | Defence ties
With the 2014 India-Australia bilateral Framework for Security Cooperation functioning as the cornerstone of bilateral defence and security cooperation, India-Australia security ties are poised to graduate to the next level with the inaugural secretaries’ defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the “2+2” format, to be held in late-2017. Notably, India already has such a dialogue mechanism with Japan.
Australian PM | Maritime security cooperation
- India and Australia are on the same page in comprehending the volatile strategic equilibrium in Indo-Pacific, and thus appreciate the need for a peaceful and rule-based order.
- As responsible stakeholders in the region, Delhi and Canberra respect the maritime legal order based on the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, and stress upon the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight.
- Promoting region-wide dialogue is critical, and India-Australia-Japan Trilateral dialogue aims to serve that purpose. It is aptly complemented by India-Japan-US trilateral dialogue.
- The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and other multilateral security groupings such as ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus, and the East Asia Summit provide the two countries with avenues to tackle transnational traditional and non-traditional security threats.
Australian PM | Areas of cooperation
- Australia supports India’s claim to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and APEC, in addition to supporting India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
- People to people linkages are critical in strengthening bilateral relations. India is the third largest source of immigrants for Australia, which is also home to nearly 450,000 Indians, and around 46,000 Indian students studying in Australia.
- Australia’s New Colombo Plan is an enabler for the young Australians to build knowledge base on India. Signing of the two implementing arrangements between ISRO and Geoscience Australia for space cooperation signals that robust linkages in the field of higher education and skills development have the potential to bring bilateral ties to new heights.
Australian PM | Taking forward economic ties
- Prime Minister Turnbull has promised to constitute an ‘India Economic Strategy to define a pathway for the Australian business community to collaborate with India on its reform agenda’.
- Australia-India CEO Forum would also help strengthen trade ties.
Australian PM | Conclusion
In summation, Prime Minister Turnbull’s India visit added a new milestone to India-Australia ties; a visit that will be remembered for India and Australia’s sincere attempts to bring their politico-diplomatic and strategic visions in sync with each other.
RSTV | The Big Picture: Takeaways from Turnbull’s India visit