” New Chapter : India – Australia Agreements ” – June 9, 2020.
The close relationship between India and Australia in the last 100 years existed solely in cricket. Being a Republic, members of Commonwealth countries, and with who can speak English are the only commonalities among the two.
PM Modi’s trip to Australia in 2014 happened after a good 28 years. It was in 1986 that the then PM, Rajiv Gandhi, visited Australia first. Since then, relationship between the two countries have strengthened and trade increased.
In a country (Australia) with just 2.5 crores of people there are 7 lakh Indians. The participation of Indians is also growing in all the sectors. In the last 20 years India and Australia have displayed similar comments and jointly worked with concerted action.
It is against this background that the video conference between PM Modi and Australian PM, Scott Morrison, took place. The Joint statement released after that has elevated the success of the two nations.
Most important aspect of this Conference was the Military and Security agreements. The concept of Unity regarding the Indian Ocean and its Safety and Security are special. Trust with America being on the decline, cooperation among nations in the Asian region is important to meet the challenges of China. Increasing friendship and cooperation between India and Australia on the one hand and between the two nations and South Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam is marked.
India and Australia have signed a Military Cooperation Agreement. According to this the two nations can share their military capabilities and forge a common work agenda between the Navy of the respective nations. Another important agreement pertains to Telecom and Communication sectors of the two countries.
The two PMs didn’t discuss the China factor but it was clear that both countries had differences in ideas and views. It was Australia which raised its voice first in the context of the investigation about China’s involvement in the spread of COVID-19. Chinese military stands on the Indian border now. Against this background, the shadow of China existing in the discussions between Australia and India cannot be dismissed.
India is also a signatory to the Joint agreement among America, Japan, and Australia establishing peace in the region of Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean three years ago. The military agreement between India and Australia should be viewed as an extension of that.
That the Security Cooperation between the two nations was important and urgent is not in doubt. At the same time the existence of a big gap in the Trade Agreement must be recognised.
India’s reliance on not just China but Australia too for mineral imports is a fact that needs to be welcomed. At the same time, not taking the trade agreement further is a drawback certainly.
There are reasons for Australia to empower the relationship in these 7 agreements. China has imposed 80% tariff for the import of barley grains from Australia. China has also imposed a ban on 4 meat exporters from Australia. One third of Australia’s exports go to China. Australia has also imposed restrictions for Chinese in Australian Universities.
China is Australia’s largest trade ally (8240 crore dollars – ₹ 6,21,581 crores). India is in 6th place with just (2050 crore dollars – ₹ 154641 crores). Hence, in terms of economy India cannot match China. The same holds good between India and Australia also.
The arrival of Raja Pakshe brothers in Sri Lanka has boosted China’s relationship with Sri Lanka through India Australia relationship and agreements.
Hence, the need for strengthening ourselves in the Indian Ocean region becomes imperative.
“Dieu avec nous”
Monday, June 9, 2020 – 11.29 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit :. ” Australia discovered India every 20 years or so”.