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PM Modi holds virtual Bilateral Summit with Australian PM Scott Morrison – The Big Picture – RSTV IAS UPSC

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  • June 29, 2020
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PM Modi holds virtual Bilateral Summit with Australian PM Scott Morrison

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TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighbours

In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the India-Australia Virtual Summit with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on June 04, 2020. 

India and Australia signed seven key agreements including a landmark pact for reciprocal access to military bases and another on rare earth minerals during the online summit. The event signifies “the strengthening of ties with Australia and its upward trajectory,” the MEA stated.

The relationship between the two nations was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership” level in 2009. Since then, both countries have expanded their cooperation in a range of key areas. Over the last year and a half, both leaders have met four times. Their first meet was in the year 2018, on the sidelines of East Asia Summit in Singapore, followed by the G20 in Osaka in June 2019, then during the G7 Summit in Biarritz in August 2019. The leaders last met during the East Asia Summit in Bangkok in November 2019.

The Details

The two leaders reviewed the broad framework of bilateral strategic ties and explored ways to expand cooperation in areas of trade and defence. 

Economic Ties

  • The bilateral economic engagement too has been on an upswing in the last few years. According to official data, the trade between the two countries was around USD 21 billion in 2018-19.
  • Australia’s cumulative investment in India is about USD 10.74 billion whereas India’s total investment in Australia is USD 10.45 billion.
  • Australian Super Pension Fund has invested USD 1 billion in India”s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

Defence and Terrorism

In its White Paper on Foreign Policy in 2017, Australia recognised India as the “pre-eminent maritime power among Indian Ocean countries” and a “front-rank partner of Australia”.

  • The two countries are also expected to finalise a landmark agreement for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support in the summit besides sealing a number of other pacts
  • Australia has been supportive of India’s position on cross-border terrorism and on asking Pakistan to take meaningful action against terrorist groups operating from its soil.
  • Australia also co-sponsored the UNSC resolution to declare Azhar Masood a global terrorist.
  • In the last few years, both the countries have been focusing on expanding maritime cooperation. India and Australia commenced their first bilateral naval exercise ‘AUSINDEX” in 2015 which was focussed at deepening defence and maritime cooperation especially in the Indian Ocean.

The China factor

India and Australia have developed an understanding of each other’s perspectives on regional and global issues, and have a shared approach to a free, open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

Against the backdrop of their frosty relations with China, the two countries also unveiled a ‘shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific’, a region which has been witnessing growing Chinese military assertiveness triggering concerns among major players. 

In the case of India, tensions are due to a long pending border demarcation issue. In the case of Australia, tensions are high due to the Australian government seeking an impartial probe into the spread of the covid-19 pandemic and the origins of the disease. China has in recent weeks threatened economic consequences for Australia taking such a stance.

Agreements Signed

  1. Framework Arrangement on Cyber and Cyber-Enabled Critical Technology Cooperation.
  2. MOU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of Critical and Strategic minerals.
  3. Arrangement concerning Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA).
  4. Implementing Arrangement concerning cooperation in Defence Science and Technology to the MoU on Defence Cooperation.
  5. Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reforms. 
  6. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training.
  7. Memorandum of Understanding on Water Resources Management.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. The world needs a coordinated and collaborative approach to get out of the economic and social side effects of this epidemic. Comment.
  2. Bilateral ties between India and Australia

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