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PM Narendra Modi and PM of Australia Scott Morrison hold 2nd India Australia Virtual Summit 2022

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2nd India Australia Virtual Summit

On March 21, 2022, the 2nd India-Australia Virtual Summit was held between the Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi, and Australian PM Scott John Morrison where both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

  • The first virtual summit was held between India and Australia, both members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, on June 4, 2020.

List of documents announced/signed during India-Australia Virtual Summit

Apart from a Joint Statement, following Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed during the summit:

i.MoU between Prasar Bharati, India and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Australia signed for cooperation, co-production and joint broadcasting of programmes spanning across multiple genres.

  • Under this, the reach of DD News, DD India and multiple language services of DD News will be expanded amongst the Indian Diaspora in Australia
  • Under this MoU both sides will also exchange programmes (Radio and Television content) in the fields of culture, education, science, entertainment, sports, news, travel, music and arts.
  • There will also be an exchange of professionals, organizing training for technical knowhow and programme production, etc.

ii.MoU between Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL), India and Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO), Australia was signed.

  • It will establish a framework for joint investments in Australian projects to mine critical minerals.
  • Notably, Australia accounts for 55% of global lithium production and over 20% of global lithium deposits. It also has the largest reserves of cobalt and vanadium, which are used for the manufacturing of mobile phones, electric cars, solar panels and other hi-tech applications.

iii.Letter of Arrangement between India and Australia for Educational Qualifications Recognition was also signed.

  • Under this, there will be establishment of a Taskforce on Education Qualifications Recognition which will deliver a cooperative mechanism, within 6 months of its establishment, to improve arrangements for the recognition of qualifications for access to higher education, and to support employment opportunities.

iv.Letter of Intent (LoI) regarding Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement was signed to support enhanced mobility for students and professionals.

Documents Announced during the Summit

i.Establishment of Annual Summit between India and Australia (Announced)

ii.Establishment of General Rawat India-Australia Young Defence Officers’ Exchange Programme 

iii.Return of 29 artefacts by Government of Australia 

  • These artefacts comprise sculptures, paintings and photographs, across centuries, some dating back to the 9th-10th century, from different parts of India including 12th century Chola bronzes, 11th-12th century Jain sculptures from Rajasthan, 12th-13th century sandstone Goddess Mahisasuramardini from Gujarat, 18th-19th century paintings and early gelatin silver photographs.

iv.Similar Tax benefits for investments by Australia’s sovereign and pension funds in India as in Australia 

v.Matching funds as Australia of the amount of AUD 10 million or approx. Rs 56 crores for Pacific Island Countries under Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS)

vi.Matching funds as Australia of the amount of AUD 10 million or approx. Rs 56 crores for Pacific Island Countries under International Solar Alliance (ISA)

Key Points from Joint Statement/India-Australia Engagements:

i.The Australian government will establish a new Centre for Australia-India Relations, to be based in Australia, with funding of $28.1 million over four years to expand exchange and cooperation with India.

  • It will focus on four key areas of work viz. promoting policy dialogue; building Australian business literacy and links; engaging Australia’s Indian diaspora communities to support the Australia-India bilateral relationship, and -deepening cultural connections and understanding.
  • The Centre will also administer the $20.8 million Maitri (friendship) scholars, fellowship programs and cultural partnership.

ii.As India is set for the 2023 G20 presidency, both sides agreed to work closely on economic issues of global interests and concerns.

iii.To enhance trade and investment ties, PMs re-committed to conclude an Interim Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) at the earliest.

iv.They also agreed on the early resolution of the issue of taxation of offshore income of Indian firms under the India Australia Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).

v.Both sides look forward to the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) to be held on June 13, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland; and for India’s participation in the Sydney Energy Forum on clean energy supply chains in the Indo-Pacific to be held in July 2022.

vi.There is extension of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) which seeks collaboration on science, technology and research

vii.There is LoI between India and Australia on New and Renewable Energy Technology, to decrease the cost of low and zero emissions technologies .

viii.Australia is supporting India’s Gaganyaan Space Program. 

ix.There will be increased cooperation between India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Australia’s Future Fund, a sovereign wealth fund; along with deepening of defence cooperation to address security and defence threats. 

Key Regional Commitments:

i.India-Australia called for the immediate cessation of violence against civilian populations in Myanmar. They urged Myanmar to implement the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Five-Point Consensus.

ii.Leaders also reiterated their commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people by adhering counter terrorism commitments and human rights, in accordance with UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) 2593. 

PM Scott Morrison announces investment of about Rs 1500 crore 

The Australian PM announces an investment package of about Rs 1,500 crore (estimated 280 million Australian dollar) to boost ties with India in areas such as clean technologies, space and innovation.

  • This will include Rs 183 crore for cooperation in clean technology and critical minerals and Rs 136 crore for enhancing ties in the space sector. 

Recent Related News:

i.On February 11, 2022, Union Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), participated in the 4th Japan- Australia-India-United States (US) (Quad) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting 2022 in Melbourne (Australia).

ii.On February 11, 2022, India and Australia signed a MoU on Tourism cooperation in the field of Tourism to enhance cooperation and encourage expansion of bilateral relations in tourism.

About Australia:

Capital– Canberra
Currency– Australian Dollar