Both are working closely to bring greater stability in the Indo-Pacific region
India and Australia got into a 2+2 dialogue this week, right after a heartbreak, for the World Cup hosts’ and crowd favourites India, whose luck perhaps ran out on the 11th match/hour. India may have lost the World Cup to the mighty Australian cricket team, but it is back at the table to discuss business about the gated globalisation with Australia on the geo-economic front.
India and Australia signed on an interim Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) last December. This set the stage for greater economic cooperation between the two countries from the QUAD group to shed their age-old inhibitions, and come together in the vast Indian Ocean Region against the bully in the backyard of China. Commenting on the signing of ECTA in December Union Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal had said “There is a lot of potential for exporting finished goods to Australia, since they hardly manufacture anything, they are largely a raw material and intermediate producing country, we will get cheaper raw materials which will not only make us more competitive globally but also enable us to serve Indian consumers better; enabling us to provide more quality goods at more affordable prices.
Australia, which is largely dependent on imports, will benefit hugely, they will soon start seeing a lot more finished goods coming in from India, providing a huge amount of work and job opportunities in both goods and services, provided by Indian talent. The Agreement will also eliminate Double taxation on IT services which was making us less competitive and making us less profitable in the IT sector, the double taxation has now been removed by amending the law, and from 1st April, double taxation for the IT sector will be over, we will save millions and millions of dollars right now, and over a billion dollars going forward, maybe 5 - 7 years going forward, giving us competitive edge and also creating a lot many jobs. I appreciate the Australian government for being very sensitive and considerate, giving us full cooperation throughout the negotiations, especially in protecting the interests of the farmers and dairy sector of India.”
The ECTA is likely to be upgraded to a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which will provide more areas of economic play between Australia and India. The ECTA framework has already provided a huge fillip for Indian exports to Australia, where data reveals that nearly eight per cent of Indian exporters have utilised the concessional tariff lines available. This has also pushed India’s exports to Australia by nearly 17% on a year-on-year basis, making India one of the important trade partners. This week the defence and external affairs ministers of both countries discussed in detail the expansion of bilateral defence cooperation, including intelligence sharing, maritime awareness and emerging technology, such as AI, and cybercrime cooperation. Foreign minister S Jaishankar highlighted post the dialogue, the message of stability Australia and India, closely working together are sending out in the greater Indo-Pacific region, where China is getting aggressive with many of its immediate neighbours. It was no surprise that the Philippines almost simultaneously was complaining of China’s belligerent behaviour in the ocean, in their backyard, and reiterating the need to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
India and Australia work closely as the QUAD countries along with the US and Japan, to bring greater economic and strategic cooperation for stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Each of the QUAD countries has strong bilateral relations among themselves too. With China threatening to unilaterally change the world order, especially through military and sophisticated technology use, the World Cup for geo politics in the Indo-Pacific would go to teams from countries (especially in QUAD) who work more closely.
(The writer is a policy analyst, views are personal)