India-Australia upraises bilateral ties for a far-reaching, inclusive partnership: Focusing on food partnership, expansion of mining business, and greater aviation connectivity the government of Australia has begun to implement a vision document that will shape bilateral ties with India till 2035. The announcement from prime minister Scott Morrison regarding implementing the “India Economic Survey” was made in the backdrop of the ongoing visit to the country by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The India Economic Survey is a report authored by former Australian envoy Peter Varghese and was released earlier this year. The report made wide-ranging recommendations to transform India-Australia ties by firming up ties between Australia and Indian states.
Both the countries will further deepen defense and strategic relationship with the third iteration of bilateral exercise AUSINDEX 19, which will see the largest Australian defense joint task force to visit India.
Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu said the exercise is part of the strong and growing Australia-India strategic partnership.
“Australia clearly sees India in the top tier of our international relationships. With both countries having expensive maritime capabilities, it makes sense for Australia and India to do more together to ensure that the Indian Ocean remains free, open, and inclusive,” added Sidhu.
It vividly showed that both country’s counterparts will together work on naval maneuvers and military training activities.
The Australian High Commission said AUSINDEX is the cornerstone of a wider Indo-Pacific endeavor deployment which will see the task force conduct port visits in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The deployment reinforces Australia’s commitment to engaging all Indo-Pacific nations and promoting regional maritime security cooperation, the Commission added.
It comes at a time of heightened anxiety, with escalating trade tensions between Canberra and Beijing and tense India-China military standoffs.
The Australian prime minister, who canceled his inaugural trip to India in January amid the bush fire crisis at home, said on Sunday the two “like-minded democracies and natural strategic partners ” believed strong ties were key to a “more open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific”-thought to be a veiled reference to Canberra and New Delhi’s shared suspicions of Beijing’s growing maritime ambitions.
Beijing earlier this month slapped an 80 percent tariff on Australian barley and suspended imports from four Australian abattoirs, in moves widely seen as retaliation for Canberra’s push for an independent international inquiry into the origins and spread of the coronavirus.
China has denied charges of economic retaliation against Australian exporters, who send more than one-third of their goods to the country, insisting the trade measures came in response to quarantine and inspection violations and unfair trade practices.
Although Modi has been reticent to publicly address tensions, China and India have for weeks been locked in a border stand-off that has seen Chinese and Indian soldiers take part in skirmishes using their fists, rocks, and clubs.
India’s military sources quoted in domestic media have accused China of occupying Indian territory amid a major military build-up by both sides-an accusations Beijing has denied.
But even as Australia-India ties look set to go “scale greater heights” as suggested this week by High commissioner, significant limits to their relations are likely to remain.
New Delhi whose foreign policy for decades has shunned formal alliances, has been widely seen as hesitant to take a tough and unified line on Beijing compared to its Quad partners, two of which Australia and Japan, are US treaty allies.
For Australia, India is unlikely to offer a quick fix for lessening its heavy economic reliance on China.
While Canberra would like to see new Delhi liberalize trade further to give Australian producers greater access to the Indian market, “the signs on that front are not good, with India recently announcing a plan to enhance self-reliance”, Commissioner Barry O’Farrell said.
“India’s economy is much smaller- it’s economy shrank even before Covid-19 and will further deteriorate in the wake- with a similar population to that of China “, said Jain, the University of Adelaide professor, describing the country as a “tough market to negotiate”.
“And being a ‘messy democracy’ and a bureaucratic state, Australian businesses have always found it difficult to penetrate into the Indian market.