India-Australia Virtual Meet: India, Australia sign 7 agreements on public reforms, defence, critical technology
Australia supports India’s demand for permanent membership in an expanded United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the first-ever ‘India-Australia Virtual Summit’ with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on June 4, 2020. The Australian PM was scheduled to visit India this year but the visit could not take place. It was then agreed to hold the virtual summit.
This is the first-ever ‘Bilateral Virtual Summit’ between India and Australia. This signifies the strengthening of India’s ties with Australia and its upward trajectory.
PM Modi in his opening note expressed his heartfelt condolences to all the people and families affected by COVID-19 in Australia on behalf of India. He said that the global epidemic has affected every type of system in the world. He noted that their virtual summit is itself an example of it.
List of Documents signed/ announced
Following documents were announced/signed during India-Australia Virtual Summit:
1.Joint Statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Republic of India and Australia
1.Framework Arrangement on Cyber and Cyber-Enabled Critical Technology Cooperation.
PM Modi address at India-Australia Virtual Summit
• While expressing a little disappointment in not getting the opportunity to warmly welcome the Australian PM to India, PM Modi urged him and his family to visit India as soon as the situation improves.
• Speaking on India-Australia relations, PM Modi stated that the two nations share deep relations and the depth comes from their shared values, interests, geography and objectives.
• PM Modi reiterated that this is the perfect opportunity to further strengthen relations between India and Australia.
• Speaking on strengthening their friendship, PM Modi stated that though there are infinite possibilities to make their friendship stronger, they also bring challenges such as how to translate this potential into reality, so that links between the citizens, businesses, academics, researchers of both countries become stronger.
• PM Modi reiterated that the relations between India and Australia should be a factor of stability for the entire region and the world and all aspects including how we work together for global good, will need to be considered.
• On sharing Democratic values, PM Modi said that both India and Australia have to live up to the nations have from each other and the citizens have from us by upholding the values of global welfare such as democracy, rule of law, freedom, mutual respect, respect for international institutions and transparency.
• PM Modi further reiterated that India is committed to expanding its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace. This is not only important for the two nations but also for the entire Indo-Pacific region and the world.
• He observed how various institutional dialogues are providing more substance to India-Australia relations. There are also continuous high-level exchanges between the two countries.
• PM Modi noted how trade and investment are also increasing but he stated that he is not satisfied with the pace of the expansion.
• The Indian Prime Minister stated that when a leader like Scott Morrison is leading Australia, then the criteria for the pace of development in the relations between India and Australia should also be ambitious.
• The two leaders announced that they will be upgrading India- Australia bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. PM Modi said the role of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will be more important in this period of the global epidemic.
• PM Modi stated that the world needs a coordinated and collaborative approach to overcome the economic and social side effects of this epidemic and India has decided to view this crisis as an opportunity.
• In India, a process of comprehensive reforms has been initiated in almost all areas and they will soon see results at the ground level.
• PM Modi further thanked the Australian PM for taking care of the Indian community in Australia, and especially the Indian students during this difficult time.
The Indian and Australian Prime Ministers had earlier had a telephonic conversation on April 6, 2020 to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges posed by the crisis and the support required for citizens stranded in each other’s country.
• India and Australia share extremely warm and friendly relations, which have only been growing steadily with years. The visit of former Australian PM Tony Abbott to India in September 2014 and PM Modi’s visit to Australia in November 2014 further strengthened the partnership between the two countries.
• The two countries had signed a framework for security cooperation in November 2014 that laid the foundation for intensified foreign, defence and security policy exchanges between the two countries.
• The economic engagement and trade has also been growing between the two nations. In 2018-2019, the trade between India and Australia stood at around USD 21 billion. The nations are further looking to expand investments and trade with each other.
• The two nations also have a shared approach to a free, open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. Australia supports India’s global initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative.
• Australia has also supported India’s membership to Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement. It also supports India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).