May 29, 2024
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India, Australia Aim To Strengthen Economic, Defence Ties

Anthony Albanese, the prime minister of Australia, will visit India today in an effort to deepen trade, investment, and defence ties and build on the recent momentum in bilateral relations.

Anthony Albanese’s three-day visit, which is the first by an Australian prime minister since 2017, comes days before that of Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan and another member of the so-called Quad grouping that aims to challenge China’s expanding dominance in the Indo-Pacific.

Together with Australia and Japan, the Quad includes the United States and India. Australia is slated to host a Quad leaders conference in Sydney later this year.

“​India and Australia share warm and friendly relations based on common values and democratic principles. The Strategic Partnership between the two countries was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement ahead of the visit.

“Prime Minister Albanese’s visit is expected to provide further momentum to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.”

Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, Anthony Albanese said Australia wanted “greater diversity in who we trade with – and greater variety in what we trade, meaning our economy is more resilient and more secure”.

The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), the first free trade pact between India and a developed nation in ten years, was signed by the two nations last year. As a result, tariff on 85% of Australian exports to India and 96% of Indian exports to Australia in value was immediately reduced to zero.

Yet, talks on a far bigger Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement have been stalled for more than ten years. The 2011 start of the discussions resulted in their suspension in 2016 due to stalemate.

The talks picked again up in 2021, but no agreement has yet been reached. Don Farrell, the Australian Minister for Commerce and Tourism, is a member of Albanese’s team, and it is anticipated that the visit will offer a chance to advance the ambitious agreement.

India claims that under the ECTA, bilateral commerce, which was $27.5 billion in 2021, could nearly quadruple to $50 billion in five years.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

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