After Cricket, they get down to business of Economic and Defence Co-Operation
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is visiting India from March 8 to 11. This is his first bilateral visit to India after he took charge in May 2022. Albanese travelled to Ahmedabad, Gujarat where he, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, participated in Holi festival, watched the fourth cricket Test between Australia and India before moving on to Mumbai. In Gujarat, Albanese allocated time to watch the 4trh Cricket test underway between Australia and India at Narendra Modi stadium.
After Gujarat, getting down to business he attended a Round Table CEOs forum in Mumbai to connect Australian and Indian businesses. Speaking in Mumbai, at the round table CEO Forum, Mr Albanese said:
“I feel as though I’ve been in India for some time, but we did arrive just a few hours ago, yesterday. But we have done an enormous amount, and this morning, myself and Prime Minister Modi have shared an intimate occasion with 100,000 people at the magnificent stadium there in Gujarat.
“This is my third visit to India, but my first as Prime Minister. On the first occasion, I came in 1991 with a backpack, and I caught trains, I hitched rides, I caught the video buses overnight, and got all sorts of transportation to get around. But I do find that in order to get to really engage with the people of a country, get on the train is the way to do it.
“I’m doing it a bit different now, I’ve brought my own plane this time. And we are getting around in a bit of a different fashion.
“But I am struck by something in common, which is the warmth of the hospitality of the Indian people.”
India is Australia’s 6th largest trading partner and Australian PM said we could do “much better than that in the future, I have no doubt”.
“And as you rise with the extraordinary growth in development that we’ve seen over recent periods as well, we are very jealous of your economic growth rates,” Mr Albanese added.
“I see this as, in my first year of my prime ministership, as a first step, a first step in what will be an era of unprecedented growth in our relations.”
Just two weeks ago, Australia and India signed an agreement for Mutual Recognition of Qualifications when the Australian Education Minister Jason Clare visited India and took a big delegation of Australian education providers with him.
Prime Minister Albanese is travelling with 34 Australian company CEOs. The Australian industry, Australian business and research, is sizing up the fantastic, massive market of India to develop the smart energy industry that’s going to power the Australia economy and the Indian economy in the future.
Companies like Powerledger, and Selectronic, are looking to take their products and sell them into the huge Indian market.
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Several of the companies are working on projects to bring solar panel manufacturing to Australia, to actually build the solar panels that Australia invented and export them to the world.
Modi met Albanese for the first time on the sidelines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit on May 24, 2022 and congratulated him for his election victory. They met again during the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on September 27 last year.
Australia and India upgraded their bilateral relationship from Strategic Partnership in 2009 to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2020. Over the years, institutional mechanisms have been put in place to promote bilateral cooperation.
The bilateral mechanisms include high-level visits, annual meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, Energy Dialogue, Joint Working Groups on different issues.
In June 2020, the two sides had also signed a pact for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides scaling up overall defence cooperation.
Modi also held a bilateral meeting with Albanese on November 16 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
This will be the first visit by an Australian Prime Minister to India since 2017.