India-Australia Relations

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 20, 2023, 20:57

India-Australia relations are based on both the nations shared values of democracy, freedom of the press, and equality. Both nations were former colonies of the British Empire and are now Commonwealth countries with strategic interests in Asia-Pacific. To grow India-Australia relations even better, the governments of both countries cooperate with each other.

The leaders of both India and Australia visit each other frequently to maintain their international partnership. In this article, we have shared information about India-Australia relations in the past and the present.

India-Australia Relations 2023

To maintain healthy India-Australia relations, the leaders from both countries devise strategic visits. On 4 June 2020, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, participated in the Australia-India Leaders' Virtual Summit. The Summit discussed India-Australia relations through trade and economic alliances.

  • The bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009 as a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).
  • This strategic alliance marks a step forward for India-Australia relations to expand their trade and economic partnership.

India-Australia Relations: Pre-Independence

Even before independence, India extended its hand to Australia to establish a friendly rapport with the country. India-Australia relations first started when the Consulate General of India was opened in 1941 in Sydney. Here are some of the highlights from India-Australia relations before independence.

  • In March 1944, Australia appointed its first High Commissioner to India, Lieutenant-General Iven Mackay.
  • In 1945, in Canberra, India’s High Commissioner to Australia first arrived in Australia.
  • To establish good India-Australia relations, the Prime Ministers of the two countries meet regularly.

India-Australia Relations: Post-Independence

Here, we have shared some details about India-Australia relations post India’s independence. Check out details about the economic, trade, military, and political relations between the two countries below.

India-Australia Relations: Political Relations

  1. India and Australia regularly interact at major international conferences like the G20 Summit, East Asia Summit and other bilateral events.
  2. To maintain India-Australia relations, the Foreign Ministers of both countries meet for events. One such event is the Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue, alternately held in Australia and India.
  3. Since 2015, India-Australia 2+2 Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue has been held each year to enhance policy and security cooperation.
  4. To strengthen India-Australia relations with other Indo-Pacific countries, Trilateral talks between India, Australia, and Japan were held in New Delhi in 2015 and have been taking place each year alternatively.
  5. Indonesia-Australia-India Senior Officials' Strategic Dialogue was established in 2017, with the first meeting held in Bogor, Indonesia.

India-Australia Relations: Economic & Trade Relations

The economic and trade relations between India and Australia are good. Here are some of the recent trade details between the two countries.

  1. The economic engagement between the nations is underpinned by the India Economic Strategy, prepared by Australian Think Thank, to define new avenues to unlock opportunities offered by Indian Economic growth.
  2. When it comes to trade, India-Australia relations are solid. Two-way goods and services trade between India and Australia was $24.4 billion in 2020. Australia invested $15.4 billion in India in 2020. The two-way foreign direct investment stock was also valued at $1.4 billion in 2020.
  3. What strengthens India-Australia relations is also the fact that India is seventh-largest trade partner of Australia. India's main exports to Australia include refined petroleum, medicines, etc.
  4. India's major imports from Australia include coal, copper ores, gold, and education-related services.
  5. One of the biggest contributors to India-Australia relations in economics is the education sector. Australia's education exports to India are valued at $6 billion while at the end of 2020, Indian students in Australia numbered 115,137.
  6. A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was signed between the two countries in 2014. This ensures that uranium mining companies in Australia may fulfill contracts to supply uranium to India for civil use.

India-Australia Relations: Military Relations

  • The military relations between India and Australia have also improved significantly in the last few decades.
  • The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement has been signed between the two nations that enhance defense cooperation and ease the conduct of large-scale joint military exercises.
  • There is a technical Agreement on White Shipping Information Exchange.
  • Another indicator of healthy India-Australia relations is that the Indian Air Force participated for the first time in Exercise Pitch Black in Australia in 2018.
  • India and Australia have conducted AUSINDEX, a bilateral naval exercise to further developments on the seafront.

Significance of India-Australia Relations

Historical ties between India and Australia date back to the European settlement in Australia in 1788. It is important to maintain good India-Australia relations and to respect each others’ cultures. Here is why India-Australia relations are so significant.

  1. Both India and Australia strengthened their relationship by establishing the India Trade Office in Sydney in 1941.
  2. In 2009, a 'Strategic Partnership' including a 'Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation was signed, bringing the two nations to work closely on multiple fronts.
  3. The Indian diaspora is one of the fastest-growing in Australia, and over 721,000 Indian-origin people lived in Australia as per numbers in 2020. Therefore, India-Australia relations must be maintained.
  4. India remains Australia's largest source of skilled migrants and second-largest source of international students. Considering the economic factor, India-Australia relations must be a priority for both nations.

India-Australia Relations: Challenges

India and Australia largely maintain a good relationship. However, like many other international partnerships, there is some friction between the two nations. The factors that have previously challenged India-Australia relations are listed as follows.

  • Even after years of partnership, there is no free-trade agreement between India and Australia.
  • There have been visa restrictions for Indian professionals and students.
  • The Adani coal mine project in Australia was criticized by many.

India Economic Strategy 2035

In addition to India-Australia relations, the Australian prime minister has announced the implementation of "An India Economic Strategy to 2035", a vision document that will shape India-Australia bilateral ties.

  • This document is based on the three-pillar strategy; Economic ties, Geostrategic Engagement and Rethinking Culture.
  • The report identifies 10 sectors and 10 states in an evolving Indian market where Australia has competitive advantages. This can help shape the future relations between India and Australia.
  • These sectors are divided into the flagship sector (education), three lead sectors (agribusiness, resources, and tourism), and six promising sectors (energy, health, financial services, infrastructure, sport, science, and innovation).

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FAQs on India-Australia Relations

Q1. How are India-Australia relations in 2023?

India-Australia relations in 2023 are diplomatic and both nations share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both nations are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and share political, economic, security, linguistic, and sporting ties.

Q2. How are India-Australia relations in trade?

When it comes to trade, India-Australia relations are great. In 2020, India was Australia's seventh-largest trading partner and sixth-largest export market. Education is Australia's largest service export to India, valued at $6 billion and accounting for 88% of the total in 2020.

Q3. What are the challenges in India-Australia relations?

Although India-Australia maintains a good relationship, the nations face certain challenges, some of which are listed below:

  • There have been visa restrictions for Indian professionals and students.
  • Even after years of partnership, there is no free-trade agreement between India and Australia.
  • The Adani coal mine project in Australia was criticized by many.

Q4. Does India have good relations with Australia?

Yes, India-Australia relations are good. This can be because of the many similarities between the two countries, such as -

  • Both countries have a colonial past.
  • Both countries have a democratic government and enjoy a free press and independent judicial system.
  • Both countries share English as the primary language of commerce and industry.
  • Both countries have a significant interest in sports, including a love for cricket.