Stage set for first in-person India-Australia Annual Summit

At the Annual Summit, leaders take stock of progress made on various initiatives under the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership…reports Asian Lite News

The first in-person India-Australia Annual Summit will take place during Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s official visit to India from March 8-11, according to an official release.

At the Annual Summit, leaders take stock of progress made on various initiatives under the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The summit lays the way forward on new initiatives and enhanced cooperation in a diverse range of sectors between India and Australia. The Summit was first held virtually on June 4, 2020, the release said. This is the Australian PM’s first bilateral visit to India since the Labour Party government was sworn-in May 2022. The visit to India aims to further strengthen India-Australia bilateral relations, the release said.

The visit comes after a series of high-level engagements and an exchange of Ministerial visits between the two sides in 2022 and in 2023. The last visit by an Australian PM (Malcolm Turnbull) was in 2017.

Australian PM Albanese will arrive in India on Wednesday at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad at 4:10 pm IST. He will then visit the Sabarmati Ashram. At 5:20, he will visit the Raj Bhavan to participate in the Holi event, the release said.

The Australian PM will leave for Mumbai on March 9. On March 10, he will take part in the Ceremonial Reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi which will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rajghat. The Australian PM will then meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

He will also be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi and President Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

According to the official release, “India-Australia bilateral economic relations are growing. The Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA) entered into force in December 2022. It is the 1st FTA signed by India with any developed country in a decade. ECTA has resulted in an immediate reduction of duty to zero on 96 per cent of Indian exports to Australia in value (that is 98 per cent of the tariff lines) and zero duty on 85 per cent of Australia’s exports (in value) to India.”

The bilateral trade was USD 27.5 billion in 2021. Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India and India is Australia’s 9th largest trading partner. With ECTA, there is potential for bilateral trade to reach around USD 50 billion in five years.

Indian yoga teachers and chefs will gain an annual quota. There has been a resolution of Double Taxation of Indian IT companies which will save them over USD 200 mn per year, as per the official statement.

India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia. The Indian community in Australia continues to grow in size and importance. As per the 2021 Census, around 9,76,000 people in Australia trace their ancestry to Indian origin, making them the second largest group of overseas-born residents in Australia.

To celebrate India@75, the Australian Government illuminated more than 40 monuments/buildings across Australia, including the iconic Sydney Opera House. PM Albanese issued a personal video message on the 75th Anniversary of Independence.

The mechanism for Mutual Recognition of Educational Qualifications (MREQ) was signed on March 2, 2023. This will facilitate the mobility of students between India and Australia. Deakin University and the University of Wollongong are planning to open campuses in India. There are more than one lakh Indian students pursuing various higher education courses in universities across Australia, making Indian students the second largest cohort of foreign students in Australia.

“The bilateral defence cooperation between India, Australia is expanding. The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in September 2021. The Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Australia visited India in June 2022. There is active engagement between tri-services,” according to the release.

India and Australia are keen to cooperate in the field of clean energy and have taken several initiatives on the matter. India and Australia have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) on New and Renewable Energy in February 2022 which provides for cooperation towards bringing down the cost of renewable energy (RE) technologies, especially ultralow-cost solar and clean hydrogen.

The two countries cooperate in various multilateral fora. Australia supports India’s candidature in an expanded UN Security Council. Both India and Australia are members of the Commonwealth, IORA, ASEAN Regional Forum, International Solar Alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and have participated in the East Asia Summits. (ANI)

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