We all witnessed the First ever India Australia Virtual summit. But one question arises here that what is the importance of India Australia Virtual Summit? Let’s discuss what all MoUs have been signed-in the summit and what is the importance of their relation.

Indian PM Modi and his Australian counterpart PM Scott Morrison took part in the First-ever India-Australia Virtual Summit. A total of 9 agreements/MoUs have been announced/signed between the countries. These MoUs are:

  1. The countries gave the statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Republic of India and Australia (Announced)
  2. They also issued a statement on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo- Pacific (Announced)

MoU Signed

  1. Signed MoU on Framework Arrangement on Cyber and Cyber-Enabled Critical Technology Cooperation
  2. They signed MOU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of Critical a. Strategic minerals
  3. Another MoU is the Arrangement concerning Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA)
  4. Implementing Arrangement concerning cooperation in Defence Science and Technology to the MoU on Defence Cooperation
  5. They signed MoU on Co-operation in the held of Public Administration and Governance Reforms
  6. Agreement on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training
  7. MoU on Water Resources Management

Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA): This MoU is very important for India as well as for Australia. Now, what is the importance of MLSA? Let’s talk about it. Now, the Military of both countries can use the ports of one another for logistics purposes like folding, water, refueling, repair, etc. Suppose, Indian Navy is involved in operation near Australia. Now under MLSA, the Indian Navy can use Australian ports for logistics purposes and in the same way, the Australian Navy can also use Indian Ports. So, this boosts the capacity of any operation.

INDIA AUSTRALIA BILATERAL RELATIONS

India and Australia’s historical ties started immediately following European settlement in Australia from 1788. All trades from the colony of New South Wales was controlled by the British East India Company through Kolkata.

Both the countries established diplomatic relations in the pre-Independence period, with the establishment of the India Trade Office in Sydney in 1941.

As time flew, the relationship gained momentum towards a strategic relationship, alongside the existing economic engagement.

Strategic Relationship between India and Australia:  With the changing global scenario, Australia has come to look at India as an important partner in promoting regional security and stability. This led to an up-gradation of the bilateral relationship to a ‘Strategic Partnership’, including a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2009.

In 2017, the relationship between both the countries reach one step ahead when Australia released the White Paper on Foreign Policy in November 2017. In this, India was in the front rank of Australia’s international partnerships. It says, “Beyond an increasingly important economic relationship, our security interests are congruent, particularly in relation to the stability and openness of the Indian Ocean.”

Bilateral Trade: The trade between the two countries was around $20.92 billion in 2018-19. But in this trade, India exported goods and services worth $5.17 billion and imported goods and services worth $15.75 billion in 2018-19. So, The balance of trade is badly in favour of India. India wants to reduce this margin.

This was also one of the reasons that India did not sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Watch out this video you will completely understand the reason.

Military Exercises: Both countries are also involved in Military exercises. They participate in the bilateral Naval Exercise AUSINDEX from 2015. They are also involved in the bilateral army exercise AUSTRA HIND from 2016. Apart from bilateral exercises, they are also involved in multilateral exercises like KAKADU (a multilateral maritime exercise) and Exercise Pitch Black (a multilateral air exercise).

Now, in spite of all these military exercises, India is still not inviting Australia to Malabar Trilateral naval exercise (India, US and Japan). I think the reason you all know. So, It is the time that India to shred its past hesitations about including Australia into the Malabar trilateral naval exercise.

Australia supports India on the International level: The country supports India’s membership of the NSG and an expanded UNSC. Australia has also backed India’s demand that Pakistan must take meaningful action against terror groups operating from its soil. Besides, it co-sponsored a UNSC resolution to declare Azhar Masood a global terrorist. The country also holds the view that recent developments with regard to J&K are India’s internal matter.

Read | Australia Fire

Australian strengths that could be of interest and value to India:

  • Australia is a country that is rich in natural resources. Now, India being a developing country, it’s growing economy needs these natural resources.
  • Australia has huge potential in higher education, scientific and technological research. India is already utilizing these resources in India. time has come to boost the process.
  • The country has deep economic, political, and security connections with the ASEAN. India wanted to be a global player now. Also, India’s Act East policy requires India to connect to its eastern countries. So, Australia can play a greater role.
  • Another measure thing is Australia has a little “sphere of influence” of its own — in the South Pacific (now under threat from Chinese penetration). So, here India should join Australia to counter China. this will be a great lesson for China.
  • Australia has also good relation with Indonesia. The country has very strategic position in the ocean. The sea lines of communication between the Indian and Pacific oceans run through the Indonesian archipelago. Now, this is where both the countries with the help of Indonesia can initiate a full range of joint activities, including on maritime domain awareness, development of strategically located islands and marine scientific research. Also, Modi and Morrison must seek trilateral maritime and naval cooperation with Indonesia. this will also help in containing China in Indo Pacific reason.
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