India and Australia have a shared history and language, common democratic traditions, similar legal, financial and Government structures and common interests as Indian Ocean littoral States. Cricket is an abiding passion. Both countries are members of the Commonwealth, founder members of the United Nations and members of the Indian Ocean Rim – Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and dialogue partners with ASEAN. With the increasing prominence of the Asia-Pacific region in global geo-politics and economics, Indo-Australian relations assume that much more significance. There are concerted efforts on both sides to expand and diversify bilateral relations.
In this context, many high level bilateral visits have taken place. Visits at Ministerial, Parliamentary and official levels from the Union Government and State Governments are a regular feature in Indo-Australian relations. Some of the high level visits include:
Recent visits from India to Australia have included the Minister of Commerce and Industries Shri Kamal Nath for the 11th Session of the Indo-Australian Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) which was held in Melbourne in May 2008; Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences , Shri Kapil Sibal (Feb'08), Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar Hon’ble Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (NER) (Apr’ 08), Shri Praful Patel, Minister of Civil Aviation, (May’ 08), Shri P.R.Dasmunsi, Minister of Information and Broadcasting (May’ 08) and Minister of External Affairs Shri Pranab Mukherjee (June’ 08), Mr. Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Steel(June’ 08).
Various Export Promotion Councils/Chambers of Commerce and Industry have organised BSMs and participated in International fairs held in Australia.
The Australian Trade Minister Mr Simon Crean visited Mumbai and New Delhi (Jan ’08). The Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith visited New Delhi (Sept ’08). The then Australian Prime Minister Mr John Howard paid a State visit to India in March 2006 accompanied by a delegation of government officials and a high level business delegation. Among others Dr Brendan Nelson, the then Minister for Defence, Mr Morris Iemma and Mr Mike Rann, Premiers of New South Wales and South Australia also visted India.
Various Australian government agencies and other organisations have organized business visits to India and participated in International exhibitions in India.
Trade and Economic Cooperation
Indo-Australian trade and economic relations today are active. However, its full potential has not been realised and there are considerable opportunities towards their consolidation.
Bilateral trade between India and Australia has grown annually over the past 5 years at around 30 %. It touched A$ 10.74 billion during calendar year 2007. In the fiscal year 2007-08 the total trade touched A$ 10.94 billion a decrease of 4% over the last year 2006-07.
India’s exports increased to A$ 1.61 billion in 2007- 08. This was 23 % higher than the corresponding figure of A$ 1.31 billion in 2006-07. Pearls & Gems, generating sets & motors, Jewellery and textile manufactures topped the export basket in 2007- 08.
India’s Imports from Australia in 2007 -08 recorded A$ 9.33 billion. In 2007- 08 imports were largely composed of mineral resources.
For the fiscal year 2007 -08 India ranked 6th in Australia’s export market with a share of 5.2 % in terms of overall exports; its rank as an import source was 24th with 0.8 % market share in Australia’s total imports; India ranked 11th as Australia’s overall trading partner in 2007-08. India’s share of Australia’s total trade was 2.9% in 2007-08.
Potential for Indo-Australian cooperation exists in infrastructure development including roads, ports, airports and railways; power sector; mining; oil and natural gas including LNG; biotechnology; drugs and pharmaceuticals; information technology; water management, soil conservation and waste disposal; food processing and agribusiness; film and television; processing of gems and jewellery; tourism; and education. The Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi also provides a significant opportunity for sporting business including infrastructure development, venue management etc.
Joint Ministerial Commission and Joint Business Council
The status of bilateral trade and economic cooperation between India and Australia and opportunities thereunder are discussed between Ministers on a regular basis under the auspices of the Indo-Australian Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC). There are several Working Groups under the JMC, the Joint Working Groups (JWG) on Energy and Minerals, Biotechnology and Tourism are a few among others. 11 Sessions of the JMC have been held so far with the last session being held in Melbourne, Australia in May 2008. An India - Australia Trade and Economic Framework Agreement was signed during the then Prime Minister Mr John Howard’s visit in March 2006.
Simultaneously with the JMC, the Indo-Australian Joint Business Council (JBC) also holds its regular sessions. 17 sessions of the JBC have been held so far with the last session in Melbourne in May 2008. The 17th Session of the JBC took place in Australia at the time of the 11th Joint Ministerial Commission.
The total value of Australian investments in India during the period January 2000 to December 2007 was Rs 7,641.74 million ( US$ 171.12 million). This accounts for 0.33 % of the total approved investment in India from all countries and sources
Some Major bilateral agreements signed between India and Australia include:
- Joint study Group on feasibility of an FTA
- Trade and Economic Framework Agreement
- Joint Australia-India Consultative Committee on Legal Services
- Joint Working Group (JWG): Biotechnology
- Special Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology
- Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments
- Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income
- Air Services Agreement
Government offices and PSUs based in Sydney
Government of India Offices and PSUs in Australia include the Government of India Tourist Office, the State Bank of India, New India Assurance Co Ltd, Air India (offline station) and Bank of Baroda.
Australia has become an attractive destination for Indian students. Estimates indicate the presence of nearly 70,000 students in various Universities all over Australia.