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India, Australia bilateral virtual summit held; 7 agreements inked along with announcement of CSP

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India, Australia Leaders summitOn June 4, 2020, the first India-Australia virtual leader’s summit was held between Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.  The focus of the meet was to further strengthen the bilateral ties in areas like healthcare, trade and defence.

  • It should be noted that this was PM Narendra Modi’s first virtual bilateral summit, while Australia has held such a summit with Singapore in March, 2020.
  • This meet was on the lines of Australian PM Scott Morrison’s visit to India which was in the pipeline (first during January 13-16 and later in May). Therefore, it was decided to have a virtual meeting.

Importantly, India, Australia signed seven agreements after the meet. Let’s have a look at them.

Framework Arrangement on Cyber and Cyber-Enabled Critical Technology Cooperation

The External Affairs Minister of India Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne signed the 4-year $12.7 million Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership. 

  • Under this, Australia and India will work together to promote and preserve an open, free, safe and secure Internet, enhance digital trade, harness critical technology opportunities and address cyber security challenges.
  • This Australia-India Framework Arrangement on Cyber and CyberEnabled Critical Technologies Cooperation will create a research and development fund for Indian and Australian businesses and researchers in order to improve their cyber resilience.

MOU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of Critical and Strategic minerals

Both nations have expanded their existing resource partnership by signing a MoU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of Critical and Strategic minerals. 

  • Under this both sides will work together to cooperate on new technologies for exploration and extraction of other minerals.

MoU Arrangement concerning Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA)

Canberra, Australia and New Delhi, India signed Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) to increase military inter-operability through defence exercises between the two countries. Means, this agreement enables both nations to access military bases for logistics support.

MoU on Defence Cooperation; Australia to support India’s membership for NSG

Both nations inked a MoU on Defence Cooperation which provides a framework for growing collaboration between the defence science and technology research organisations of both countries.

  • Under this the Indo-Aussie bilateral civil nuclear cooperation will be continued along with their commitment to further strengthen global non-proliferation. 
  • Notably, Australia expressed its strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Both sides will also assess and address potential risks associated with virtual assets and new financial technologies that may be abused for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing and take steps to ensure that such virtual assets service providers are subject to Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing for Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations. 

MoU on Co-operation in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reforms

India-Australia is committed to working together in the field of public administration to exchange knowledge in areas of mutual interest through an MoU on Co-operation in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reforms.

MoU on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training

Both nations inked a new agreement on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training to forge new bonds of cooperation in policy development, program delivery and information exchange.

MoU on Water Resources Management

Water security is a critical challenge for both countries and it was jointly decided to deepen policy and technical cooperation on mutually agreed activities to improve water management and sustainable economic development through the MoU on cooperation in the field of Water Resources Management.

Elevation of bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009 to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) announced

Through this meet, both nations have entered into a comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) on the lines with India’s increasing engagement in the Indo-Pacific region through its Indo-Pacific vision and Australia’s Indo-Pacific approach. In this regard both nations signed a joint declaration of working together in the following areas through mutual cooperation:

  • Enhancing science, technology and research collaboration
  • Maritime cooperation for an Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific
  • Defence Cooperation
  • Regional and Multilateral cooperation
  • Terrorism
  • Economic cooperation: A More Prosperous Shared Future
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Agriculture Cooperation and Water Resources Management
  • Education, Culture, Tourism and People-to-people ties
  • Tourism
  • Parliamentary Cooperation
  • People to People Connections
  • Support in UN and international bodies
  • Reformed Multilateralism
  • Energy and Environment
  • Public Administration and Governance
  • Implementation

The CSP is based on mutual understanding, trust, common interests and the shared values of democracy and rule of law. It should be noted that India-Australia bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009.