India, Australia to undertake high level engagement in the coming days
India and Australia are set to undertake high level engagement in the next few weeks and months as part of a flourishing relationship between the two nations. Next week, Indian education minister Dharmendra Pradhan will be travelling to Australia in a key visit given the large number of Indian students Down Under. According to Indian government estimates, around 90,000 Indian students are enrolled for studies in Australia.
Both sides also have a Joint Working Group on Education which has identified several key areas for co-operation, including collaborative research in education policy, student exchange programmes, capacity building in vocational education and distance learning in higher education.
Two key events are lined up for September. India Australia tier-two dialogue happens in the first week of the month, and in the last week, Australian trade minister Tim Watts is expected to travel to India to hold talks with his counterpart. Remember, both countries signed the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) earlier this year which will be followed by a full-fledged trade pact. The negotiation for the full trade pact is due to start during the visit of the Australian trade minister. This will be minister Tim Watts’ first India visit under current capacity given the country saw a government change in May.
By the end of this year, foreign minister Penny Wong will also be in India for a visit. Both countries, who are also part of the Quad grouping, are working closely in several sectors, with key announcements being made during the virtual summit between PM Modi and then Australian PM Scott Morrison in March. This includes Rs 1500 crore investment by Australia in India in areas like technology, critical minerals etc.
The engagement continues with both PM Modi and new Australian PM Anthony Albanese meeting on the sidelines of the Quad summit in Tokyo. This was followed by deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles visiting India. Interestingly, during the India visit, Marles flew aboard Indian Navy’s P8i, becoming the first minister from a foreign country to do so. P8i is a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.
Next year, Australia will host the Quad summit and it is a given that PM Modi will be travelling to attend. Both countries also face a common challenge of an aggressive China that has brought them closer in the Indo Pacific.