Spotlight Sep 12: Discussion on India-Australia 2+2 Dialogue and the outcomes – https://youtu.be/InClTB9SywE
- GS-2: International Relations
In News: Recently, India’s Defence Minister and External Affairs Minister held the inaugural ‘2+2’ talks with their Australian counterparts.
Significance of India-Australia 2+2 meeting
- India and Australia elevated their bilateral strategic partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020.
- These inaugural 2+2 discussions are a cornerstone of the Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which is founded on a shared commitment to a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- There is a growing convergence of views on geo-strategic and geo-economic issues backed by a robust people-to-people connection.
- Given their common security challenges (terrorism & China’s aggression) and in order to enhance regional security architecture, both countries have intensified bilateral security cooperation.
- Both countries have stepped up collaborations through institutions and organisations on many issues in trilateral, plurilateral (QUAD) and multilateral (Ex: UN) formats.
- Beyond bilateralism, both countries are also entering into partnerships with like-minded countries, including Indonesia, Japan and France, in a trilateral framework.
Key Highlights of the meeting
A. On maritime security in Indo-Pacific:
- Maintain an open, free, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region (in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)).
- Support India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative
- Need for renewed efforts by the Quad member countries to expand cooperation in the region.
B. On Trade: Emphasis on
- Ensuring free flow of trade
- Adherence to international rules
- Sustainable economic growth in entire region
C. In-depth discussion on bilateral & regional issues:
- Displayed a common approach to the Afghan crisis
- To continue to work together on counter terrorism; countering of radicalization and on the proposed UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
- Cooperation in multilateral formats – bilateral trade, vaccines, defence production, community links, maritime security, cyber and climate cooperation
- Welcomed the launch of the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative by the Trade Ministers of India, Australia and Japan.
- Agreement was reached to deepen cooperation in vaccine manufacturing and to deliver high quality vaccines to their Indo-Pacific partners (Australia-India Strategic Research Fund)
- Australia has invited India for participation in future Talisman Sabre exercises which will raise interoperability while both sides explore longer term reciprocal arrangements in logistics support.
- Renewed support expressed for finalization of bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
- Pitched for early resolution of the issue of taxation of offshore income of Indian firms under the India Australia Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.
D. Invitation to Australia to engage in India’s growing defence industry
- Expand military engagements across services
- Facilitate greater defence information sharing and to work closely for mutual logistic support
- Invited Australia to engage India’s growing defence industry
- To collaborate in co-production and co-development of defence equipment
Both the countries have decided to meet at least once every two years in this format to keep up the momentum.
Bilateral economic and trade relationship between India and Australia
- The India-Australia economic relationship has grown significantly in recent years.
- India’s growing economic profile and commercial relevance to the Australian economy is recognized, both at the federal and state level in Australia.
- India’s exports to Australia stood approximately at US$ 4.6 billion (A$6.1 bn) in 2016 while India’s import from Australia during the same period stood at US$ 11 billion (A$14.6 bn).
- India’s main exports to Australia are Passenger Motor Vehicle & machinery, Pearls, Gems and Jewellery, Medicaments and Refined Petroleum while India’s major imports are Coal, Non-monetary Gold, Copper, Wool, Fertilizers and Education related services.
Areas of concern
India and Australia need to resolve old issues that pose a barrier to deeper economic integration.
- India has a high tariff for agriculture and dairy products which makes it difficult for Australian exporters to export these items to India.
- At the same time, India faces non-tariff barriers and its skilled professionals in the Australian labour market face discrimination.
- It is expected that the ‘2+2’ dialogue will provide substance to this partnership.
- The Quad has gained momentum in recent months. The time is ripe for these countries to deliberate on a ‘Quad+’ framework.
- The geo-political and geo-economic churning in international affairs makes it imperative for India and Australia to forge a partnership guided by principles with a humane approach
Connecting the dots:
Can you answer this question?
- Collaboration between India and Australia can limit the dangers of the growing geopolitical imbalance in the Indo-Pacific. Comment.