The first-ever India-Australia 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue is scheduled to take place in New Delhi on Saturday, September 11, 2021.
On the Australian side, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton will have talks with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. And the focus will be on maritime security and the Indo-Pacific as well as issues related to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan.
According to sources, the decision to have the 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue is an indication of the close ties between India and Australia which is also a member of QUAD and recently participated in Ex Malabar off Guam. And recently, the navies of both countries had participated in military exercises like AUSINDEX.
In addition to the civil nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 2014, there is a technical agreement on the exchange of information on white maritime transport which was signed in 2015 and last year the two signed an agreement on support mutual logistics (2020),
In June last year, during the virtual summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the bilateral relationship was elevated to the rank of “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”.
Bilateral relations between India and Australia
The two countries are already engaged in various formats of dialogue and have cooperated in various sectors, including maritime security, mutual logistical support and cooperation in critical cybernetic technologies, critical and strategic materials and defense science exchanges. The two parties also work closely in water resources management, vocational training and governance.
Australia is a member of the Small Group of Members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and has supported India’s admission to the “small group”. It has now become a key partner of the Indo-Pacific and QUAD initiative. It is also part of trilateral initiatives such as India-Australia-France and India-Australia-Indonesia, as well as forums led by ASEAN.
Bilateral trade between the two countries is around $ 20 billion per year and negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECSC) are well under way and an early harvest agreement is an intermediate goal.
There is an Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) which is important because it allows for collaboration between scientists from both countries to work together on cutting edge technologies. India-Australia Science and Technology Fund; Grand Défi Fund; The India-Australia Biotechnology Fund and scholarship programs are all part of this fund.
This country has significant deposits of several types of essential minerals that India needs and is one of the top educational destinations for Indian students.
In the context of COVID, the two are examining the need for resilient supply chains. According to sources, the trade ministers of India, Japan and Australia have launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) which will help diversify and secure supply chains.
2 + 2 ministerial dialogue with other countries
India has a 2 + 2 ministerial format dialogue with just two countries – the US and Japan and soon the dialogue with Russia will take place in New Delhi later this year.