February 04, 2024

A fireside chat unfolded against the backdrop of the multifaceted relationship between Australia and India, which is marked by three strategic drivers that are Strategic Alignment, Economic Complementarity and the Human Bridge traced by High Commissioner Philip Green “I undertsand that India and Australia have a level of strategic alignment like never before”.

Green was speaking at the 8th 40th Anniversary celebrations of CUTS International at Jaipur to a packed audience of over 60 people. The event focused on “Strengthening Bonds: India-Australia Bilateral Relations” with Ambassador Philip Green, High Commissioner of Australia to India as the guest speaker.

In his opening remarks Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International welcomed the Australian High Commissioner and shared his recent experience of having come back from Australia after organizing three 40th Anniversary events at Australia National University, Canberra on Multilateral Trade; Australia India Institute, Melbourne on Critical Minerals and the Indian Consultate in Sydney on Bilateral Trade in partnership with Newland Group and that there is a great enthusiasm about the relationship.

Mehta mentioned that over time, the defence relations are growing between Australia and India, and will continue to grow because of the changing dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region. “We need to do more here, particularly on manufacturing of defence equipments”.

Bilateral trade and investment have experienced consistent growth, reaching US$48.4 billion in bilateral trade in 2022. Australia’s investment in India was US$17.6 billion, and India’s investment in Australia was US$34.5 billion in the same year.

In terms of economics, India is full of people with abundant human resources giving the nation its high manufacturing capacity. Whereas Australia has a much smaller population, it has the critical minerals needed by the industries of India.

In the fireside chat, Ambassador Green responded that the human bridge is a key strategic driver that navigates the cultural and social relations between the two nations. Over a million people from India are settled in Australia which is roughly four percent of the whole population of Australia. Indians are attracted to Australia for higher education and add to the Australian economy with their skills and dexterity.

The discussion further delved into various aspects of the India-Australia relationship, focusing on economic collaboration, cultural and educational exchanges, regional security, and participation in global forums such as the Quad and the much-needed emphasis on maritime security and awareness.

Emphasizing their commitment to regional security in the Indo-Pacific region, the session highlighted the role of diplomatic efforts in exploring new opportunities, especially in emerging sectors like critical minerals.

The high-level panel acknowledged the significance of the proposed India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) as a milestone in bilateral trade. The discussion highlighted the positive trends in goods trade and the potential for increased services trade and business mobility.

In response to questions posed during the fireside chat, Ambassador Green emphasized the importance of continuous efforts to enhance the India-Australia relationship. He suggested that India should target specific areas of collaboration to deepen economic, technological, strategic and cultural ties, especially through education. He cited the proposed CECA as an example of a successful initiative fostering stronger bilateral relations beyond traditional sectors.

Ambassador Green further outlined exciting and impactful prospects for economic collaboration in non-traditional sectors, beyond mining with more emphasis on agriculture, apparel, Solar PV Supply chain and critical minerals. He envisioned a strong future in areas yet to be explored fully, promising innovation and mutual benefit.

The evolving dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region and strategic partnerships, particularly between India and the US, were discussed. Ambassador Green highlighted the parallel trend in the growing bonhomie between India and Australia.

Regarding the potential contribution of civil society organizations, Ambassador Green articulated that there are specific domains and sectors within the broader Indo-Pacific context where organizations like

CUTS International can collaboratively contribute to fostering an enhanced and fortified relationship between India and Australia. In particular, CSOs can be more free and frank when speaking about sensitive issues which would normally not be easy for diplomats to speak about. This can then help the officials to traverse forward.

CUTS International remains committed to facilitating such meaningful dialogues that contribute to the strengthening of bilateral ties, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between nations, especially to strengthen the Indo-Pacific region.

For more information, please contact:
Vijay Singh (8076619084) vs1@cuts.org Anjali Shekhawat (9783595972), asw@cuts.org