Australian Prime Minister (PM) Anthony Albanese visited India for four days from March 8 to 11, 2023, with the objective of enhancing overall bilateral engagement in a number of fields, including trade, investment, and critical minerals.
- This was the first official visit he made to India since becoming PM in May 2022 and the first visit by an Australian PM in six years.
He was accompanied by Senator Don Farrell, Minister for Trade and Tourism, and Madeleine King, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, as well as senior officials.
Visit to Gujarat
i.Australian PM Anthony Albanese first arrived at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad (Gujarat), and visited the Sabarmati Ashram, where he paid tribute to the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
ii.He attended a gathering of “Deakin University,” the first ever foreign university to open an overseas campus in India which will be located in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
- The proposed Deakin University campus will provide courses in cyber security and business analytics.
iii.The 4th Commemorative Cricket Test Match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between the Indian and Australian cricket teams was inaugurated at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, by the Prime Ministers of India and Australia, marking the beginning of the visit.
ECTA signed between India & Australia to Unlock the Next Level of Potential in Trade & Investment
On March 9, 2023, Australian PM Anthony Albanese addressed the ‘India-Australia CEO Forum’ in Mumbai (Maharashtra), stating that the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) agreed upon between the two nations is a transformative pact that will unleash the next level of potential in trade and investment.
- As per the India-Australia ECTA which entered into force in December 2022, over 85% of goods exports (by value) from Australia to India are now tariff-free (zero duty) and 96% of exports (by value) from India to Australia are tariff-free.
India-Australia CEO Forum
The ‘India-Australia CEO Forum’ was hosted by the Directorate for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoC&I), and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to capitalise on the increasing trade and investment between India & Australia.
- The forum was co-chaired by Dr. Anish Shah, MD & CEO, Mahindra Group and Ms. Shemara Wikramnayake, MD & CEO, Macquarie Group.
India- Australia Ties
i.The bilateral relationship between Australia and India was upgraded from a Strategic Partnership in 2009 to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2020.
ii.Bilateral trade between the two countries was USD 27.5 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 50 billion in the next five years, with an ambitious objective of USD 100 billion in future.
iii.India was Australia’s 9th largest trading partner in the fiscal year 2022, while Australia was India’s 17th largest trading partner.
- Major exports to Australia include petroleum products, textiles and apparel, engineering goods, leather, pearls, mechanical appliances, iron and steel and gems and jewellery.
- Major imports include edibles, dyeing extracts, chemicals, wool, minerals & precious stones.
iv.Australia supports India’s candidature for an expanded seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
v.Both India and Australia have taken part in the East Asia Summits and are members of the Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
vi.In February 2022, India & Australia agreed to a Letter of Intent (LoI) on New and Renewable Energy, which calls for collaboration to lower the cost of renewable energy (RE) technologies, especially ultralow-cost solar and clean hydrogen.
India & Australia Sign Audio-Visual Co-Production Agreement
India and Australia have inked a significant bilateral Audiovisual Co-production Agreement under which private, quasi-government, or governmental institutions from the two nations enter into contracts to produce films together.
- The agreement was signed by Australia’s Trade Minister, Don Farrell, and India’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Singh Thakur.
Australia is the 16th nation with which India has such a co-production agreement.
- India has 15 co-production agreements currently in place, with Italy, the United Kingdom (UK) and Northern Ireland, Germany, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Canada, China, South Korea, Bangladesh, Israel, Russia, and Portugal.
i.The international film production company may claim a payable cash incentive of up to 30% on qualifying expenditure in India for all qualifying projects, subject to a maximum of Rs. 2 crore.
ii.For foreign film shoots in India, an additional 5% bonus, up to a maximum of Rs. 50 lakh, will be provided as additional reimbursement for employing 15% or more people in India.
NITI Aayog’s AIM join hands with Australia’s science agency CSIRO
On March 10, 2023, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national research agency, signed a letter of intent (LoI) to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas of national challenge and shared goals of both countries.
i.The India-Australia Innovation and Technology Challenge (IA-ITC), a programme designed to connect the innovation ecosystems of India and Australia, forms the crux of the bilateral relationship.
- The India-Australia Circular Economy (IACE) hackathon in 2021 serves as the basis for the IA-ITC.
ii.In order to make sure that the IA-ITC is sustainable, innovative, effective, and aligned with the strategic objectives of both India & Australia, AIM and CSIRO are now working on the design and development of the IA-ITC programme delivery mechanism.
- The program is scheduled to be officially launched in July 2023.
Australian PM Albanese Receives Guard of Honour During INS Vikrant Visit
During his recent visit to India, Australian PM Anthony Albanese paid a visit to India’s indigenous aircraft carrier, the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant, and was accorded a Guard of Honour on the carrier, which was commissioned into the Indian Navy in September 2022.
- The INS Vikrant, India’s largest aircraft carrier, is the largest ship ever built in Indian maritime history and is equipped with cutting-edge automation features.
i.In November 2022, Australia conducted the first full-scale Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE) 2022, an annual Australian Defense Force (ADF) activity, and in December 2022, it conducted the first bilateral training exercise in the series of “AUSTRA HIND 22” between contingents of the Indian Army and the Australian Army.
ii.For the first time, Australia will host the 27th edition of Exercise MALABAR, which will take place later in 2023 and will involve the navies of Australia, India, the United States (US), and Japan.
- The MALABAR Exercise is an annual multilateral naval exercise between the navies of India and the US that began in 1992. Japan joined the exercise in 2015, while Australia joined in 2020.
iii.India will also participate in Australia’s ‘Talisman Sabre’ exercise for the first time in August 2023.
India & Australia sign a Framework Mechanism for Mutual Recognition of Qualifications
On March 2, 2023, India & Australia signed a Framework Mechanism for Mutual Recognition of Qualifications, which will facilitate student and professional mobility between the two countries.
- The agreement was signed by Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s Education Minister, and Jason Clare, Australia’s Education Minister.
The agreement was reached during the visit of Australian Education Minister Jason Clare, who was in New Delhi from February 28 – March 4, 2023 to promote cooperation between Australia and India in the area of education.
i.This agreement is an outcome of the pledge made by the two PMs during the 2nd India-Australia Virtual Summit on March 21, 2022, where they decided to form a Joint Task Force for The Mutual Recognition of Qualifications.
ii.The 7th Australia-India Education and Skill Council (AIESC) meeting is scheduled to be held in September 2023, with the G20 Education Ministers meeting following in June 2023.
AITA hosts Renewable energy companies in India
During the Australian PM Anthony Albanese’s visit to India, the SMART Energy Council delegation, which was led by 20 + Australian clean energy companies, was hosted by the Australia-India Trade Association (AITA).
- The AITA also held a seminar on “Doing Business in India.”
AITA is based in Brisbane, Australia, and promotes trade between Australia and India.
- It also has liaison offices in Mumbai (Maharashtra), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Delhi, Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), and Hyderabad (Telangana).
i.The Smart Energy Council of Australia and AITA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the goal of bringing renewable technology and investment to India and vice versa.
ii.The MoU was signed by Mr. John Grimes, CEO of the Smart Energy Council of Australia, and Mr. Ashish Katta, Chairman, AITA.
Recent Related News:
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), an Australian Government agency, has signed an MoU with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to collaborate on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.
Prime Minister– Anthony Albanese
Currency– Australian Dollar