Political and Economic
Australia has placed India at the forefront of its international partnerships. Both governments recognise there is significant potential for further cooperation across a broad range of areas. Two-way Prime Ministerial visits in 2014 built significant momentum in the relationship and affirmed the Strategic Partnership agreed to in 2009.
India is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and our fifth-largest export market. Major exports to India include coal, copper and gold; major imports from India include refined petroleum, pearls and gems, and medicaments. We are seeking to deepen our bilateral trade and investment links through the conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
Building on a long history of cooperation – including our shared experience in the trenches of World War I in Gallipoli and along the Western Front – Australia and India have a positive defence relationship, underpinned by the 2006 Memorandum on Defence Cooperation and the 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.
In recent years our defence relationship has grown to include a range of forums for strategic dialogue, as well as regular interactions between our respective services through senior visits, staff talks, and training exchanges.
Key platforms for strategic dialogue include the annual Defence Policy Talks and the annual 1.5 Track Defence Strategic Dialogue, with the most recent Defence Policy Talks hosted by Australia in 2015. Senior visits also occur on a regular basis. In September 2015 the then Australian Minister of Defence visited India, resulting in agreement to deepen our defence cooperation ties, including through establishing a Joint Working Group on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation. Service chiefs from both countries regularly engage with their counterparts, exchange security perspectives, and gain an understanding of each other’s structures and capabilities through visits, with the Indian Chief of Naval Staff recently visiting Australia in October 2015. The services also engage regularly through Navy, Army and Air Force Staff Talks.
Australia and India continue to build robust people-to-people links between our defence forces through regular personnel and training exchanges, such as short specialist courses and longer-term positions. Every year, Australia sends two officers to attend Indian military educational institutions: one officer attends India’s Defence Services Staff College, while another attends its National Defence College. India also sends two officers to study in Australia annually, with one attending Australia’s Command and Staff College and the other attending the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. In 2015, an Australian officer also attended the Indian Navy’s Long Hydrography course in Goa.
Australia and India are committed to working together to enhance maritime cooperation, with our first formal bilateral naval exercise (AUSINDEX) held off the coast of Visakhapatnam in 2015. In September 2015, our defence ministers committed to holding AUSINDEX biennially, and the next iteration will take place in Australia in 2017.
Practical cooperation between Australia and India is evident through our joint participation in a range of activities. Australia participated in the Indian-hosted Exercise MILAN 2014, which included the opportunity to cooperate with India and other regional Navies. In June 2015, two Indian Navy ships Satpura and Kamorta visited Fremantle in Western Australia, coinciding with a visit by the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Commander. In February 2016, Australia’s Chief of Navy, a Royal Australian Navy ship and a detachment of the RAN Band will visit Visakhapatnam to participate in the Indian Navy’s International Fleet Review.
Education and Training
The Department of Education and Training works with the education sector, other government agencies and ministries to ensure Australia is recognised as a regional and world leader in education and a partner of choice for international collaboration. The department provides leadership and coordination across government, delivering programs and policies to support mobility and the global exchange of knowledge.
The Department of Education and Training office at the Australian High Commission leads strategic policy, regulation and government to government engagement in international education and research across India and the region (Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives).
The Australia-India Council (AIC) was established by the Australian Government in May 1992 to broaden and deepen Australia-India relations through contacts and exchanges in a range of fields that promote mutual awareness and understanding. The AIC is a non-statutory body with a Chairman and a Board appointed by the Government on a part-time basis for three years. The AIC is serviced by a secretariat in Canberra, while the Australian High Commission in New Delhi manages the AIC’s activities in India.
Australia-India Strategic Lecture
The Australia-India Strategic Lecture is a public diplomacy initiative to strengthen the Australia-India bilateral relationship with a focus on security and strategic issues. The lecture series is a joint venture between the AIC and the Lowy Institute, and provides a program of annual lectures in Australia by eminent Indians in the fields of regional and international politics and security.