South Asia and Beyond

“Done In An Unheard Of 90 Days, India-Australia ECTA Trade Deal Much Broader Than An FTA”

NEW DELHI: On ‘Talking Point‘, Ambassador Manpreet Vohra, India’s High Commissioner to Australia in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.

An Indian Navy P-8I Neptune deployed to Royal Australian Air Force(RAAF) Base Darwin this week to conduct submarine and surface surveillance patrols with one of the Royal Australian Navy’s(RAN) P-8A Poseidons “is doing what we think we need to do to make sure that our defence is in good hands, in good shape, and doesn’t necessarily have to be a message to anyone,” India’s envoy says, adding, “defence cooperation is increasing. We are like minded. We are in a common neighborhood. We do have common strategic challenges. We also have shared objectives which we want to pursue.” On high-tech defence equipment, High Commissioner Vohra points out, “One is always looking out for high-tech, whether it be equipment, technologies and force multipliers. Those are natural requirements of any armed forces including ours. And we try to get them from wherever we can and if partnership with Australia, with Australian companies, with their research organisations promises something that is good for us, then why not?”

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On the IndAus ECTA(Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement), the envoy says, “sinking our teeth into it really began on the Fourth of January. It’s unheard of to conclude it in such a short span of time.” It was made possible with a “realisation on both sides for a mutual give and take. It requires both sides to feel that there is something in it for them” and a “realisation that countries such as India and Australia must leverage their very good relationship. We must leverage the complementarity of our economies. Australia must leverage India as the fastest growing large economy. India must leverage Australia as an extremely prosperous and among the fastest growing OECD countries.”

Listen to this interview for more on Ambassador Vohra also expanding on the Quad, Australia “understanding India’s position and priorities” on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the “vulnerabilities of supply chains and the realisation that over dependence on any single market or any single source of supply is not conducive to long term economic security”, the new visa regime for professionals and students, Australian elections and bipartisan support for ECTA and the broader strategic partnership, the “scope to further add on even newer elements” in a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by the end of the year and the “signals in this for other countries”.