External Affairs minister S Jaishankar said Australia has been an early and vigorous supporter of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the Indo-pacific region will benefit from the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries which allows them to contribute effectively at a regional and global level.
Jaishankar’s remarks came while he was virtually addressing the fifth edition of the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue 2022, along with the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, where the EAM touched upon various topics related to Australia-India friendship. He said that the leadership dialogue is taking place as India-Australia relations have shifted gears and moved into a higher orbit.
“In what today seems like history, the ambitions for our ties were expressed initially by the India Economic Strategy Report 2035 released by the Australian side and the CII Australia Economic Strategy issued by India. A trade of USD 20 billion-plus and investments at the USD 25 billion level stand to rapidly expand by the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement that was concluded in April 2022. Australia is a major educational destination for Indian students, who number in excess of 100,000. The Indian community, estimated at 720,000, is a source of strength for both societies,” he said.
“The deficit in global goods has sought to be addressed by India and Australia working together bilaterally as well as in larger formats. This reflects their shared concerns about respect for international law and a rules-based order. The two countries may have long interacted in ASEAN-led forums, Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Rim Association, etc. But stronger leadership and more open exchanges have brought out the mutual benefits of closer cooperation and coordination,” the minister added.
Jaishankar said that Australia has been an early and vigorous supporter of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI). “The big change has been the realization that a stronger bilateral relationship today allows the two nations to contribute much more effectively at a regional and at a global level,” he added.
India has made enormous strides in the last three years, building on a digital backbone that was so well anticipated, he said, adding that whether it is the COWIN platform or the implementation of financial, health and social services, this has been delivered on a scale and with an integrity that would have previously been unimaginable.
“Indo-Pacific region will benefit from the collaboration between the two countries and experience growth and prosperity,” Jaishankar said.
“The Quad, on its part has emerged as a key platform for ensuring progress, prosperity, stability and security. We are also engaged in advancing the realization of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. And trilaterally, along with Japan, we are working on promoting supply chain resilience,” he added.
The minister lauded the interaction between the two countries’ prime ministers a day after the current Australian one took office and said that the new intensity in the interactions has been visible from the leadership level downwards.
He said,” It is equally notable that our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership now covers an annual meeting of PMs, a Foreign Minister’s Dialogue, a 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers meeting, a Trade Ministerial Commission, an Education Council, an Energy Dialogue and sectoral Working Groups.”
“In recent months, we have produced agreements ranging from maritime collaboration, defence science exchanges, and mutual logistics support to cooperation in cyber-enabled critical technology, critical and strategic minerals, water resources management, vocational education and training, as well as public administration and governance.”
“These milestones bring out the interactive dynamic between the bilateral and the regional facets of our cooperation,” Jaishankar added.
He went on to say that greater political confidence and stronger defence cooperation have also contributed to the participation of Australia in Exercise Malabar 2020. “A better understanding on space applications front has led to the Australian support for the temporary Telemetry Tracking and Command Centre for the Gaganyaan Mission of India.”
“A shared concern about trade reliability and economic volatility encouraged a partnership on the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, along with Japan. The ECTA was not just a trade deal; it was an outcome of the larger systemic confidence that we now see, and the Tokyo Quad Summit provided an opportunity to confirm, if confirmation was indeed needed, that the incoming Albanese Government was just as committed to the bilateral relationship, as indeed to the Quad, as its predecessor,” he said.
“I have myself met Foreign Minister Penny Wong twice and look forward to doing so again in New York very shortly,” he exhilarated.
Jaishankar highlighted that India and Australia share a strong interest in the domains of political democracies, market economies and pluralistic societies. He said that the focus of the gathering is to ensure that technology contributes to a growing meeting of interests and values between the two countries.
“On my part, I would only emphasize that recent international developments have given even greater salience to such cooperation. The unpredictability of global supply chains has created legitimate concerns about their resilience and reliability. Similarly, a more digital world puts a greater premium on trust and transparency when it comes to data,” he said.
EAM was pleased that the two countries have taken the first steps towards a serious conversation on mobility, “that is necessary to happen” he said.
“We all recognize that this is a world of greater creativity and indeed of greater innovation. And in many ways, the fall-out of the pandemic and the demands of governance have accelerated the pace of digitization. How to optimize the opportunities and challenges that emerge is a never-ending process. It is natural that this conference’s security perspective should focus on cyber security and AI. Their human aspects include the harmonization of skills and talent with the political and social aspirations of the day,” the minister added.
“Partnership, even during difficult times, is not new for India and Australia. We fought together on the same side during the WWI campaign at Gallipoli. We have also had memorable battles against each other on the cricket field, only to be again side by side in the IPL.”
Jaishankar congratulated the CEO Australia-India Institute (AII), Lisa Singh, and the Director General of CII, Chandrajit Banerjee for continuing to lead the initiative of the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue. He also thanked Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Atlassian, and Rakesh Bharti Mittal of Bharti Enterprises.