Daily Answer Writing
15 September 2021

Q. 'The time has come for India and Australia to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnerships that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole.’ Comment. (250 Words)

  • Based on a similar question asked on Indo-Japan relationship in UPSC CSE(M) GS 2 -2019
  • Source: TH - Page 7/OPED: Partners in the Indo-Pacific
  • GS 2: IR 

 

Approach Answer:


Introduction: The relation between India and Australia have grown tremendously in the recent past from the Cold war age and post 1998 Nuclear sanctions. It was initiated as a bilateral strategic partnership in 2009, which was upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020. The multilateral engagement includes a Ministerial level 2+2 dialogue. And also cooperation in various fields such as trade, Science and technology, people to people relation (diaspora) etc. This growth in engagement is due to various potentials in the partnerships.

 

Potential areas of  global and strategic partnership between India and Australia:

    • Global Partnership:
      • QUAD: Deeper engagement between Quad countries at the strategic level and at the tactical level.
      • Malabar naval exercise by the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, the U.S.) is a step in this direction. It also allows the navies to develop and enhance advanced warfare tactics.
      • Similar intentions: Australia values a rule-based international order and believe in inclusive economic integration in the Indo-Pacific region, and face challenges from a belligerent China.
      • International cooperation: Both countries have stepped up collaborations through institutions and organisations on many issues in bilateral, trilateral, plurilateral and multilateral formats. 
    • Strategic Partnership:
      • Convergence: There is a growing convergence of views on geo-strategic and geo-economic issues backed by a robust people-to-people connection.  Both countries have an enduring interest in a free, open, inclusive and rule-based Indo-Pacific region including stability and freedom of navigation for all nations in the region.
      • Common value system: Both are vibrant democracies which have respect for international laws and a belief in the equality of all nations irrespective of their size and strength.
      • Security Calculations: In order to enhance regional security architecture, both countries have intensified bilateral security cooperation. They have also stepped up security dialogue with key partner-countries to deepen coordination in areas where security interests are mutual.
      • Trade: Two-way trade was valued at $24.4 billion in 2020, has seen remarkable growth in recent years. The Indian economy is not only one of the largest economies in the world, which is also going through a tectonic economic transformation giving great opportunities to the two nations for cooperation.

 

Significance for the Asia and the world:

    • Significance for Asia:
      • Security for the Indo-Pacific region: With china building a string of ports from the South China Sea to the Indian ocean. It is important that India gains access to more ports in the Indian Ocean. India and Australia, both being major powers in the Indian Ocean region can combine their powers.
      • Local Maritime Power balance:  Asia must not depend on foreign powers for long term sustainability, and it must create its own security infrastructure. India and Australia are thus natural partners.
      • Building supply chains independent of China: Asia is interconnected very well with supply chain networks, all of which have huge dependency on China. Therefore alliance with other powers in Asia become necessary.
      • Trade Deficit: Australia is one of the few countries which have trade deficit with China, which gives it a disadvantage. India which has a surplus with Australia can build better trade channel to reduce Australia's dependency on China by building secondary supply chains.
    • Significance for the World:
      • Multi-polar world: Unipolar or bipolar world is not in the interest of the world. Therefore regional alliances are necessary to maintain its multi-polarity.
      • Freedom of Navigation: Regional security infrastructure would allow greater navigational freedom to the countries of the world particularly in the areas such as South China Sea.
      • Compensating for the US's retreat: Since the US is being seen as the retreating power in the world this too makes a case for regional alliance.

 

Concusion: India and Australia need to resolve old issues that pose a barrier to deeper economic integration such as tariff barriers by India on Agricultural products and Non-tariff barriers by Australia on India products and visa restrictions.

 

The Quad has given a great opportunity  to resolve these differences. Further, the time is ripe for these countries to deliberate on a ‘Quad+’ framework  which may include other rising powers such as Indonesia and Vietnam. The geo-political and geo-economic churning in international affairs makes it imperative for India and Australia to forge a partnership guided by principles with a humane approach.

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