Decoding importance of Australian PM’s 3-day India visit

This is the first visit of an Australian PM in the last eight years.

New Delhi | Updated: 07 March, 2023 8:13 pm IST
Australia PM Anthony Albanese met PM Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali last year.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be on his maiden three-day official visit to India starting Wednesday. Accompanied by a high-level delegation, he will hold the first in-person India-Australia annual summit.

The last Australian PM to visit India was Malcolm Turnbull in 2017. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his first official visit to Australia for G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2014 followed by a bilateral visit during which he addressed a joint sitting of the Australian parliament.

The prime ministers of India and Australia met thrice on the sidelines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo in May, the G20 Summit in Bali in November, and a short interaction at the state funeral of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in September last year.

The first virtual summit was held in June 2020 when the bilateral relationship was upgraded to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”.

During the second virtual summit, some key announcements included a Letter of Intent on migration and mobility partnership arrangement to foster the exchange of skills and a letter of arrangement for educational qualifications recognition to facilitate the mobility of students and professionals, General Rawat India-Australia Young Defence Officers’ Exchange Programme, MoU for Co-Investment in Critical Minerals Projects in Australia etc.

The visit comes after a series of high-level engagements and exchange of ministerial visits between two sides in 2022 and in 2023. Recent engagements being EAM Dr S Jaishankar’s visit to Australia on February 18, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit to India from February 28 to March 3, visit of Australian Education Minister Jason Clare to India from February 28 to March 3.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India-Australia bilateral economic relations are growing. The Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA) has entered into force in December 2022. It is the first FTA signed by India with any developed country in a decade.

“ECTA has resulted in an immediate reduction of duty to zero on 96% of Indian exports to Australia in value (that is 98% of the tariff lines) and zero duty on 85% of Australia’s exports (in value) to India. The bilateral trade was USD 27.5 billion in 2021,” it said.

Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India and India is Australia’s 9th largest trading partner. With ECTA, there is potential for bilateral trade to reach around US$ 50 billion in five years. Indian Yoga teachers and chefs will gain an annual quota. There has been a resolution of Double Taxation of Indian IT companies which will save them over US$ 200 million per year.

 In terms of people-to-people ties, India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia. The Indian community in Australia continues to grow in size and importance. As per the 2021 census, around 976000 people in Australia trace their ancestry to Indian origin, making them the second largest group of overseas born residents in Australia. To celebrate India@75, the Australian Government illuminated more than 40 monuments/buildings across Australia, including the iconic Sydney Opera House. PM Albanese issued a personal video message on the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence.

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