South Asia and Beyond

‘Australia Sees India As The Natural Leader In The Indo-Pacific Region’

NEW DELHI: Relations between India and Australia have gone from strength to strength in recent times. The signing of the long awaited FTA which came into force on December 29 last year was according to Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell, a “ground breaking moment” which he believes will better connect the two countries through their economies. The FTA will also pave the way for the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which is expected to be finalised by September this year. CECA is expected to go beyond the ambit of the FTA by removing tariffs and allowing greater access into other sectors that have so far not been considered with the result that India-Australia trade is expected to double from the current $23 billion over the next five years. Economics aside, the Australian envoy says his country can cooperate more fully with India after New Delhi announced the commercialisation of its space industry and that Australia has already been asked by the Indian government to help in the country’s first manned space mission. On the education front, Indian students, particularly those studying STEM subjects in Australia, can get work visas which will allow them to work longer periods in the country. Looking at defence, the Australian envoy said that defence cooperation between the Forces had accelerated with the three services having participated in one joint exercise, in some cases even more, last year. On Quad, the envoy praised India’s role calling it a “natural leader” in the region and said that the grouping could provide additional options to nations in the IOR on Covid vaccines and other health issues along with tackling climate change.

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